DOE to Senate: Revisit Oil Deregulation law

The Department of Energy (DOE) has urged the Senate to revisit Republic Act (RA) 8479 or the Oil Deregulation Act and provide the Executive branch a doable framework under which it can promptly intervene and address sudden or prolonged oil price hikes, including unbundling the cost of petroleum retail products to determine their real and passed-on costs.

At the recent Senate Committee on Energy’s consultative meeting with oil industry stakeholders, DOE Undersecretary Gerardo Erquiza Jr. recalled that Secretary Alfonso Cusi previously issued Department Circular 05-0008 series of 2019 requiring the unbundling of oil prices for its data gathering and policymaking function.

Opposed by oil industry players, Erquiza said the circular was subjected to an injunction by the courts despite the DOE’s argument that the “unbundling policy” is not violative of RA 8479.

Erquiza said this is the reason “why we want they want to have the ‘unbundling policy’ incorporated in the law so that it will have teeth and things can really be transparenct.”

The DOE official also suggested that if the Senate decides to suspend the fuel excise tax, it should be incorporated into the minimum inventory requirements of RA 8479.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, Committee on Energy chair, convened the consultative meeting to hear the concerns and recommendations of stakeholders relative to the constant oil price hikes.

Erquiza likewise lauded the incoming administration for its plans to tap nuclear power as an alternative energy source and lessen the effects of oil price hikes. Senator Imee Marcos, however, said the “seductive” proposal would take a long time.

“Maybe we are looking for quick wins in the next few months because we will be faced with problem and certain sectors will be impacted including transport and agriculture, neither of which will benefit from the nuclear proposal,” Marcos said.

Erquiza admitted it is a challenge to respond to the world market but they are looking to improve the current fuel subsidy system. He appealed to consumers to conserve fuel to lower its demand and consumption.