Protecting consumer rights

Published March 2, 2021, 6:00 AM

by J. Albert Gamboa

The Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to regulate the Philippines’ liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) industry. Otherwise known as the LPG Act of 2021, Senate Bill (SB) No. 1955 will ensure consumer welfare against business malpractices.

By a vote of 21-0 last week, the upper chamber unanimously passed SB 1955 authored by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian. One of the bill’s major provisions is the establishment of the LPG Cylinder Improvement Program that would eliminate unsafe cylinders from circulation and ensure their replacement by new tanks.

LPG is the fuel of choice for most Filipino households. During the current pandemic, it has risen in demand because many people work from home or take online classes – and naturally prefer to cook their meals in the comfort of their own residences.

According to Gatchalian, there is no existing regulatory framework for the local LPG sector. He noted that in the wake of recent LPG-related accidents, safety is of utmost concern. As a highly flammable and explosive fuel, LPG poses a major fire hazard if it is not handled or stored properly.

Former Congressman Arnel Ty, president of the LPG Marketers Association (LPGMA) and one of the bill’s co-authors in the House of Representatives, lauded the passage of SB 1955. “The bill is important because it will protect the rights of the consumers, such as the right to have safe LPG cylinders,” he said, citing data from the Department of Energy showing there are six million dilapidated cylinders that must be removed from the market.

Ty believes that if President Rodrigo Duterte signs SB 1955 into law, it will invite new players to invest in LPG facilities. On the other hand, existing industry players will be encouraged to immediately implement their expansion programs.

He is confident that the proposed law will have a positive impact on the entire LPG sector. Another provision is the cylinder swapping and exchange scheme that intends to put order in the industry as experienced in other countries where it has been implemented.

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