Gatchalian to continue pursuing energy-related bills; here's why

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian says consumer protection is his top consideration in filing his priority bills regarding the energy sector for the upcoming 19th Congress.

To cushion the adverse effects of sudden and drastic increases in the prices of petroleum products, Gatchalian’s Senate Bill (SB) 384, or the proposed Pantawid Pasada Act, seeks to establish an Energy Subsidy Program (ESP).

This, according to Gatchalian, will guarantee a speedy and simplified procedure as its provisions mandate the distribution of cash through digital payment systems to all qualified beneficiaries within 30 days from the issuance of certification from the Department of Energy (DOE) when the average price of oil for three consecutive months is equal to or has hit more than $80 per barrel.

Although he will not be the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee starting next week, Gatchalian vowed to continue pursuing the country’s energy security through sustainable and alternative sources.

Included in his priority bills is SB 157, or the Energy Transition Act, which will institutionalize fundamental policies on energy transition, including the promotion of clean energy sources in a bid to keep electricity costs low.

Gatchalian also deemed it necessary to ensure the upholding of the government’s interests on matters concerning service contracts to explore oil and gas and production of indigenous crude oil to provide a consumer’s table supply of energy through SB No. 381 or the Amendment of Presidential Decree (PD) 87.

This will help achieve energy security through diversification of energy sources given the expiration of Service Contract (SC) 38, or the Malampaya service contract in 2024.

He likewise underscored the need to refocus the investment mandate of the state-run Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) under SB 380 for the advancement of energy security and self-sufficiency.

Gatchalian is giving another push for some of his bills filed during the 18th Congress such as the Waste to Energy facilities (SB 151), Midstream Natural Gas (SB 152), and Energy Advocate (SB 156).

Measures SB 151 and SB 152 are meant to further diversify energy sources in the country to ensure sufficient supply for consumers, while SB 156 will institutionalize an independent consumer representation in all rate-setting, rule-making, and other energy-related cases and proceedings before government agencies, including judicial and quasi-judicial bodies.