MANILA, Philippines – Two of the country’s biggest oil firms are opposing the petition of the Consumer & Oil Price Watch (COPW) for “judicial intervention” in the investigation into the alleged cartel in the industry.
Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and Chevron (formerly Caltex Philippines Inc.) filed separate petitions yesterday with the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) contesting COPW’s request.
Last March 10, the COPW sought the courts’ permission to intervene in the investigation into the alleged cartel of the country’s three biggest oil firms despite their being cleared by the joint Department of Energy-Department of Justice (DOE-DOJ) Task Force on Oil Deregulation. The other big oil company is Pilipinas Shell.
Manila RTC Judge Silvino Pampilo Jr., said COPW chairman Raul Concepcion argued that the findings of the DOE-DOJ task force were invalid.
Pampilo said that if the request for judicial intervention is granted, COPW would have the right to file civil and criminal charges against the three oil companies.
Shell, through lawyer Janet Regalado, said an intervention may only be allowed if the petitioner has legal interest in the matter being litigated or if such intervention “must not unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the parties” or if the issue being raised by the “intervenor” may be decided in a separate proceeding.
Shell said Concepcion’s and the COPW members’ interest as consumers of petroleum products does not make Concepcion’s intervention indispensable to consumers’ rights.
Shell also said the “purported interests” of Concepcion and the COPW members “can very well be properly protected and possibly vindicated in a separate and proper proceeding.”
Shell said that allowing Concepcion to intervene in this case, despite his and the COPW members’ “absolute lack of legal interest in the matter in litigation,” would make court proceedings “unnecessarily complicated, expensive and interminable, and, thus, run contrary to the policy upon which the procedure on intervention was framed.”
Shell reminded COPW that the joint DOE-DOJ Task Force already ruled on Dec. 17, 2003 that Shell, Chevron and Petron did not violate the law on monopolies.
Chevron, meanwhile, said the court has already recognized the jurisdiction of the Joint DOE-DOJ Task Force over the issue. –- Sandy Araneta, Philippine Star