As fuel prices spike House committee OKs amendments to oil deregulation law

Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 15 2022 02:47 PM

A motorcycle rider stops for a refill ABS-CBN News/File
A motorcycle rider stops for a refill at a gasoline station in Manila on February 26, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - A panel of the House of Representatives, which tackles energy issues, on Tuesday said it has approved amendments to the Oil Deregulation Law amid the spike in fuel prices. 

The House Committee on Energy also urged President Rodrigo Duterte to hold a special session to discuss the recent spate of oil price hikes.

Committee Chairman Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo conducted a hearing today with several committee members favoring a substitution bill, subject to form and style, that would amend the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1998.

The still unnumbered bill requires oil companies to maintain a Minimum Inventory Requirement on a per company, per depot, and per product basis. All refiners, importers and distributors are required to maintain 30 days'worth of supplies. 

Under the proposal, oil companies are also required to submit to the Department of Energy indicative retail prices. These prices shall also be unbundled as follows:

  • landed cost of crude oil at the time of purchase
  • additional costs to include port charges, refining costs, storage costs, marketing costs among many others.

Local pump prices spiked as world crude oil soared due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. 

On March 15, diesel prices rose to as much as P13 per liter

Since the start of the year, diesel prices have increased by P30.65 per liter, gasoline by P20.35 per liter, and kerosene by P21.90, based on data from the Department of Energy and the most recent price increase.

This was in stark contrast to the third week of March last year when the cost of diesel in Metro Manila ranged from P34.80 to P49.30 per liter. 

Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo, an economics professor, said the rising prices of fuel have been particularly hard on transport workers. 

"A PUJ that uses 25 liters per day and runs 24 days a month will have to pay an additional P11,800 per month," she said. 

Several lawmakers have sought to amend or repeal the Oil Deregulation Law even before the crisis in Ukraine. 

"After 24 years, nakita natin kung gaano napakasamang epekto nito hindi lang sa ekonomiya kundi sa ating mamamayan," said Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate. 

(After 24 years, we've seen its very bad effect on the economy and the people)

The proposed amendments to the oil deregulation law will still have to pass several processes before going to plenary and signed into law.

Duterte earlier approved a P3 billion fund for fuel subsidy and discounts for farmers and fisherfolk affected by the spike in prices of petroleum products.

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