There are four pending bills in the House of Representatives that seek to amend Republic Act No. 8479 or the “Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1998″.
The said House measures that seek amendments to certain provisions of RA 8479 are House Bill 8764, HB 5172, HB 4550 and HB 7928. The said House bills were filed by Bohol Rep. Edgar Chatto, Baguio City Rep. Mark Go, Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos Recto, and Partylist Reps. Sergio Dagooc of APEC, Presley De Jesus of Philreca, Adriano Ebcas of Ako Padayon Pilipino and Godofredo Guya of Recoboda.
Chatto, on his explanatory note on HB 8764, said that the proposed amendments under the legislative measure seeks to give the Department of Energy (DOE), in consultation with stakeholders, the power to determine the formula to set the “fair price” of petroleum products. The Bohol 1st District congressman added that the absence of a clear definition of “fair prices” under RA 8479 has given rise to confusion and oppression.
Go, for his part, said that the DOE has the role to ensure fair and reasonable pricing across areas, cities and municipalities. The Baguio City lone district representative added deregulation has allowed the unguarded increase of oil prices with adverse impact on the prices of basic commodities and other services.
Santos-Recto, on the other hand, said that the government must ensure transparency in the pricing of petroleum products by the local oil industry players and determine the computations or assumptions employed in the price adjustments to prevent oil companies from engaging in unwarranted profiteering. The Deputy Speaker and Batangas 6th District congresswoman also asserted that frequent oil price hikes aggravated the hardships of the public especially the consumer, agricultural, manufacturing and service sectors.
The Partylist representatives in their explanatory note called on the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and DOE to investigate and monitor matters related to the variable pricing of fuel and petroleum products charged by power generation companies. They also urged both government agencies to impose penalties and fines under RA 8479 to deter and prevent any attempt in oil price control.
Under RA 8479, it shall be the policy of the government to liberalize and deregulate the downstream oil industry to ensure a truly competitive market under a system of fair prices as well as adequate and continuous supply of environmentally-clean and high quality petroleum products. The government shall also promote and encourage the entry of new participants in the downstream oil industry, and introduce adequate measures to ensure the attainment of its goals. (Melvin Sarangay)