Nograles backs proposed oil deregulation review

Published by rudy Date posted on February 17, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Prospero Nograles supported yesterday the proposed review and possible amendment or repeal of the Oil Deregulation Law.

Nograles said the frequent fuel price increases that “make economic recovery even more difficult” should prompt Congress to revisit the law.

“Recent events have betrayed the weaknesses in some provisions of the law, which oil companies use to further their business interests, to the detriment of the consuming public,” he said.

Nograles hinted that oil companies do not really compete with each other as required by the law.

“They just sing the tune reflecting world oil prices. We can only imagine their margin of profits,” he said.

He noted that over the weekend, Shell, Chevron (formerly Caltex), Petron, and Total increased diesel prices by 25 centavos per liter, unleaded gasoline by 50 centavos and ethanol-blended gasoline by 75 centavos per liter.

On the other hand, PTT Philippines announced it would keep its prices at current levels, while other oil companies have yet to announce their intentions.

Motorists have noticed that Petron, Shell and Caltex gasoline stations along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City sell diesel for P23.70 per liter. The same company outlets in other parts of Quezon City and Metro Manila sell diesel for P29.70.

Nograles said the government appears to be helpless in dealing with the issue of pricing.

“There could be wisdom in reviewing provisions that concern the powers of government to look into the books of the oil companies to set things straight,” he said.

Over the decade-long existence of the Oil Deregulation Law of 1998, there have been calls from lawmakers for the review and amendment or repeal of such legislation.

No serious effort, however, has been initiated.

Over the weekend, Malacañang announced that it would begin a review of the law.

There have also been calls for the government to actively influence fuel prices through Petron, the country’s largest oil company, which is partly owned by the government.

One investor, England’s Ashmore group, bought the shares of the government worth more than $1 billion.

Ashmore turned around and agreed to sell their majority stake in Petron to San Miguel Corp. in a deal that the Philippine Stock Exchange is questioning since Petron and San Miguel are corporations being traded on the stock market. –Jess Diaz, Philippine Star

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