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Labor group asks DOJ:
Probe Petron ‘bullying’

The labor group, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, urged the Department of Justice through its press release to investigate Petron Corp. for what it called extreme acts that have hampered smaller rivals from freely conducting business.

“At the expense of consumers, it seems that Petron now wants to enjoy superior pricing power at the pump by suppressing fair competition,” former Senator Ernesto Herrera, secretary-general of the TUCP said in the press release.

We’re afraid Petron has become the new bully in the local oil markets, considering the way it has been tormenting much smaller competitors, Herrera added.

Herrera was responding to reports that Petron has blocked independent player Eastern Petroleum Corp.’s launch of a new “megastation” at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, the press release said.

Petron is already facing a complaint for “restraint of trade” filed by Eastern, the leader of the Independent Philippine Petroleum Companies Association that excludes the Big 3 – Petron, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., and Chevron Philippines Inc. (formerly Caltex Philippines Inc.).

Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas earlier also complained that owing to Petron’s “unusual dominance” of the liquefied petroleum gas market, the oil firm sells its cooking fuel in the Visayas and Mindanao “at prices that are 14 percent higher” compared to those prevailing in Luzon, the press release said.

Petron has emerged as the dominant player in the LPG market, following its acquisition of Chevron’s cooking fuel business, it added.

Herrera assailed Petron, Shell and Chevron for using their business group, the Federation of Philippine Industries Inc., to “harass” independent re-fillers grouped under the LPG Marketers’ Association.

“It is wrongful for FPI to single out and attack LPG/MA, simply because independent LPG refillers happen to be direct business competitors of Petron, Shell and Chevron, which are all FPI members,” Herrera said in the press release.

FPI has asked the Supreme Court to compel the Commission on Elections to discredit LPG/MA, one of the sectoral groups duly recognized by the poll body for purposes of the party-list system, for supposedly not representing any marginal citizens, the press release said.

Like TUCP, LPG/MA has a representative in Congress through the party-list system, it added.*

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