The Correlation of Energy to the Economic Life of the Philippines

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During the 1973 Global Oil Crisis, the Philippines had 92% dependence on the Middle East for oil. Then President Marcos, using well thought out solutions and regulated policies, reduced the country’s dependence in Oil to 71% in 1980 and was further reduced to 57% in 1984. These figures are from undisputable government records and archives. By 1985, the Philippines was the 2nd World’s Largest Geothermal Power, next to the State of California, this resulted further dependence down to 44% on imported Oil. This translated to billions worth of savings for the country. The Ministry of Energy was then headed by Geronimo Velasco.

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The NPC or National Power Corporation during the Marcos era, had incomes in Sales Revenue of P0.4 billion to P18 billion and had total assets of P107.2 billion between 1977 to 1985. The PNOC was also featured annually in Fortune 500’s Best Corporations with incomes amounting to billions of dollars while Petron served as a buffer against foreign oil production and distribution monopoly.

Then came the so-called EDSA People Power Revolution which installed the de facto Cory Government. Four months after the EDSA Revolution, on June 19, 1986, Cory deliberately abolished the Ministry of Energy and put the highly successful multi-billion peso NPC, Petron and PNOC under the supervision of the Office of the President. This was upon the suggestion and probably the instigation of Cesar Buenaventura, Pilipinas Shell’s top honcho and one of Cory’s closest advisers. It was Buenaventura who suggested to Cory that the Department of Energy was the “most corrupt” government agency under the Marcos administration.

To justify Cory’s move to abolish the Department of Energy and cover the paper trail, Cory, through the PCGG filed charges of Corruption against Velasco, who was eventually cleared of the charges by the Supreme Court. Velasco had built a solid reputation of Honesty, Competence and Certitude.

The late Senator Joker Arroyo, who was then Cory’s Executive Secretary revealed that Cory’s advisers eyed the privatization of Petron early on during the early part of the Cory administration. They lobbied for British Petroleum and a Kuwaiti Oil company. This could explain the reason why Cesar Buenaventura of Pilipinas Shell was knighted by the Queen of England. Joker Arroyo went on to explain: “From a Policy Perspective, there was NO reason to privatize Petron/PNOC even at that time. Why would a government in DIRE need of cash be willing to let go of a GOOD SOURCE of income? PNOC was the biggest government corporation in terms of revenue. Much of it was due to Petron, which commanded about 40% of the local oil market and the top spot in the industry. More importantly, as Joker acknowledged, PNOC’s involvement in oil importation, refining, and marketing took away the Foreign Oil companies’ advantage of being the only ones who knew how to play the game. It is not surprising then that Petron threatened the interest of multi-national oil companies.”

Joker’s point about PNOC is significant, if only because it affirms that Foreign Oil Companies have always invited suspicion as a cartel and they dictate the local price of oil regardless of international prices. This issue has hounded the local oil insustry since the Ramos administration deregulated the sector and has intensified in unabates oil price increases such as what we are experiencing now. Joker went on: “To my mind, however, there is one important question that we should confront- a question that has evaded a real answee: As a matter of policy, what should we expect from Foreign Oil Companies in the Philippines?”

To answer Mr. Velasco’s question when the Cory Aquino Regime deregulated the Energy Industry, Foreign Oil Companies formed their own Cartel and DICTATED their OWN prices, leaving consumers HELPLESS from the HARSH effects of rising Oil prices, Electricity, Water ad other commodities. Because Energy has a CORRELATION to the Economic Life of the Nation, the country today, notwithstanding its advantages in Human Capital and Natural Resources, remains the Asean Region’s Economic Laggard, continuously Regressing rather than Progressing.

So for those Filipinos who keep believing that Cory “Restored Democracy in the country”, think again. She brought nothing but MISERY upon the common people, institutionalized Corruption in the Government and put the lives of masses at the mercy of the Oligarchs, Oil Cartels who will dictate the prices of Oil and all Basic Commodities.

Do not be surprised that despite the price of Oil in the Global Market going down, Filipinos still pay high price of Oil, Electricity and Water.

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