MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law regulating the liquefied petroleum gas industry, a key energy source in the country.
Republic Act 11593 gives the Department of Energy “exclusive authority” to issue licenses to operate in the LPG industry.
The LPG Industry Regulation Act signed on Oct. 14 also tasked the agency with developing liquefied petroleum gas refiling plants and a centralized piping system, among others.
It also outlined the responsibilities of industry participants, bulk suppliers, haulers, refillers, dealers, and retail outlets.
Within 6 months of the effectivity of the law's implementing rules and regulations, government agencies, industry participants, government, consumer group and other stakeholders shall come up an LPG Cylinder Exchange and Swapping Program.
This shall include among others the procedure and timeline for swapping and buyback of LPG cylinders, the computation of their depreciation, and establishment of swapping centers.
This "will ensure that unsafe cylinders will immediately be taken out of circulation and replaced with new cylinders that meet strict quality requirements," Sen. Win Gatchalian, sponsor of the bill, earlier said.
The law also listed penalties for prohibited acts like underfilling of LPG cylinders, tapering with their markings, and sale of adulterated liquefied petroleum gas.
The city or town where an industry participant's principal place of business is located shall be allotted a 40 percent share of proceeds from fines and penalties. The energy department shall use the remaining 60 percent to implement the law, it said.
WHY THE LAW MATTERS
LPG refers to commercial propane gas, butane gas, or a mixture of the two.
Sen. Win Gatchalian, sponsor of the law, said LPG accounted for 12 percent of the country's demand for petroleum products in 2019.
More than 8 million Filipino households or approximately 40 percent use LPG for cooking, he said, quoting the Philippine Statistics Authority.
The LPG Industry Regulation Act seeks to ensure for efficacious safety and competition standards for LPG, Gatchalian said.
“Safety is crucial because LPG is a highly flammable and even explosive fuel that poses a major fire hazard if not stored or handled properly. According to the Bureau of Fire Protection there were 1,161 reported fire incidents between 2010 and August 2020 attributed to LPG explosions,” he said in January.
He said the Cylinder Exchange and Swapping Program would also allow consumers to bring any brand of empty LPG cylinder to a retail outlet and use it to purchase a different.
Various versions of this legislation languished in Congress since 2004, Gatchalian noted.