While stressing that Congress has the power and mandate to review, amend or repeal any law, including the oil deregulation law, Speaker Prospero Nograles said Monday that any congressional move on the controversial measure will have to be dictated by public interest.
This even as House energy committee chairman and Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo disclosed his committee has already started deliberations on the possible amendments or repeal of the oil deregulation law.
“Revisiting the present oil deregulation law is not farfetched,” Nograles said as he scored the consistent oil and fuel price increases which make economic recovery even more difficult.
Nograles noted that the main reason for the enactment of the oil deregulation law was to promote competition among the country’s oil players and bring down prices to reasonable levels.
“Recent events have betrayed weaknesses in some provisions of the law which oil companies use to further their business interests, to the detriment of the consuming public,” the Speaker added.
“They just sing the tune reflecting the world oil prices. We can only imagine their margin of profits,” he said, noting that as of Feb. 12, Dubai crude’s average price remained stable vis a vis its January level at $44 per barrel, according to a monitoring report by the Department of Energy.
During the weekend, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., Chevron Philippines Inc., Petron Corp., and Total (Philippines) Corp., raised diesel prices by P0.25 per liter, unleaded gasoline by P0.50 per liter and 10-percent ethanol-blended gasoline by P0.75 per liter.
As of Sunday, PTT Philippines Corp. said it would maintain its prices at its current levels, while the other oil players have yet to announce their intentions.
Even as government is using every liter of its “persuasive powers” under the oil deregulation law, it appears helpless in dealing with the issue of pricing.
Arroyo said his panel already held four hearings on the controversial measure and have had lengthy discussions on the possibly amending or even the law. “We intend to come up with our report on this issue as soon as soon we finish deliberating on this issue,” he added.
Anakpawis partylist Representative Rafael Mariano expressed his support for Nograles’ move to review the Oil Deregulation Law, echoing the calls by transport groups for Congress to immediately “suspend the oil deregulation law pending its review.”
For his part, Bukidnon Rep. TG Guingona is proposing the creation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SRP) similar to that in the United States and Japan, which he said could address the petroleum shortage in the country.
He insisted that “the National Government, through the Department of Energy (DoE), has the duty to serve as the people’s supplier of last resort, “ adding that the recent LPG experience suggests that it is high time the government implement measures to address issues on supply security.
The legislator further recommends that instead of keeping crude oil as reserves, ready-to-use petroleum products namely gasoline, diesel and LPG must be stored.
“The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is an emergency store of petroleum products to be managed by the government and released to the public in times of emergency. This system is used to secure the country’s needs in case the market is unable to meet them,” Guingona explained. Charlie V. –Manalo, Daily Tribune