A bill protecting consumers from rampant malpractices in the local liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) industry has been approved on third and final reading in the Senate.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said he is confident that the passage into law of Senate Bill No. 1955 or the proposed “LPG Act” would set a national policy and regulatory framework for the LPG industry and provide consumers wider choices.
“Ang layon natin dito ay siguruhing may pamantayan ang industriya upang maprotektahan ang kapakanan ng mga mamimili. Nais din natin silang bigyan ng pagkakataong makapamili ng tatak ng LPG (Our aim here is to ensure the industry will maintain the highest standards to protect consumers against defective tanks. We also want to give them a chance to choose an LPG brand),” said Gatchalian, one of the proponents of the measure.
“Sa ngayon kasi, kung gusto mong magpalit ng tatak ng LPG dahil mas mura, kailangan mo munang bumili ng bagong silindro, (because currently, if you want to shift to another LPG brand because its cheaper, you need to buy a new cylinder),” the Senate Committee on Energy head also said.
The senator noted there is lack of any existing regulatory framework to oversee the domestic LPG industry even in the wake of LPG-related accidents that resulted in the loss of lives, limbs and properties.
He said this was apparent during the explosion that occurred in the Serendra condominium complex in Taguig City in 2013, in a water refilling station in Sampaloc in 2019 and the most recent, in a Makati restaurant.
Gatchalian stressed that safety is crucial because LPG is a highly flammable and an explosive fuel that poses a major fire hazard if not stored or handled properly.
Under the measure, the Department of Energy (DOE) would be tasked to implement the policy and drafting of the LPG Industry Development Plan and ensuring safety standards.
The bill also seeks the establishment of the LPG Cylinder Improvement Program to ensure that unsafe cylinders will be immediately taken out of circulation and replaced with new ones to significantly decrease LPG-related explosions and fires.
Likewise, the bill seeks to institutionalize the Cylinder Exchange and Swapping Program, allowing consumers to shift to another brand of LPG by bringing any empty LPG cylinder to any retail outlet.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that LPG is considered a basic necessity, as four out of 10 Filipino households are dependent on it for daily cooking, with overall domestic consumption growing at an average of six percent annually.
LPG is also being used by various industries, commercial establishments and even as fuel for motor vehicles.
Since 2004, lawmakers have been introducing measures seeking to institute a national energy policy and regulatory framework to govern the importation, refining, refilling, transportation, conveyance, distribution and marketing of LPG as well as the manufacture, requalification, exchange and swapping of LPG pressure vessels.