By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian is pushing for the passage of a bill that seeks to streamline existing laws and regulations overseeing the domestic Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) industry.
Gatchalian said that once the bill is passed into law, Filipino households no longer have to deal with the consequences of having illegally-refilled and poor-quality LPG cylinders.
“By providing a comprehensive legal framework, this measure seeks to institute reforms in the LPG industry, address concerns in health, safety, security and the environment, and effectively ensure that consumer welfare remains paramount,” Gatchalian said of Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1188 or the proposed LPG Act.
Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on energy, said the bill specifically seeks a national energy policy and regulatory framework for the Philippine LPG industry in order to strengthen and streamline the laws and regulations overseeing it.
The bill seeks to govern the activities in the LPG value chain, particularly the importation, refining, refilling, transportation, conveyance, distribution, and marketing of LPG and the manufacturing, re-qualifying, exchanging, and swapping of LPG pressure vessels.
The proposed law also covers all LPG industry players from the bulk suppliers, refillers, brand owners, and marketers to the dealers and retailers.
Gatchalian said a Department of Energy (DOE) study showed that in 2011, 53 percent or 49,174,460 Filipinos relied on LPG for their basic needs such as cooking, water heating, and lighting needs.
The DOE also reported that in the commercial sector, LPG consumption rose at a rapid pace of 10.4 percent annually from 2007 to 2017.
Gatchalian said the measure takes into consideration the reported LPG-related accidents this year and in 2018.
“Notwithstanding the noteworthy contribution of LPG in addressing the energy needs of Filipinos and the Philippine economy, the regulation of the industry has failed to keep up,” he said.
“This is evidenced by a series of accidents involving LPG causing loss of life, limb, and property,” the lawmaker added.
Under the bill, the DOE will be tasked to regulate, supervise, and monitor the LPG industry participants. The measure also seeks to sharpen the teeth of DOE to implement and ensure compliance with the quality and safety standards prescribed in the Philippine National Standards.
Also under the bill, LPG players will be required to operate for a specific activity prior to their commencement of commercial operation.
Under SBN 1188, the DOE will likewise have exclusive authority to issue licenses to operate which will be valid for three years.
Violators of the proposed law face a fine ranging from P5,000 to as much as P10 million.
Among the corresponding administrative and criminal penalties covered under the proposed law include hoarding, under-filling, illegal refilling, and engaging in an activity without a valid license to operate, among others.
Penalties also include suspension of the license to operate, permanent disqualification from engaging in any activity as an LPG industry participant, impounding of LPG products, and even imprisonment, depending on the nature of the violation.