May 19, 2024

Baguio Rep. Mark Go is supporting the request for Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to call for a special session at the Lower House, which is currently on recess, to discuss an urgent proposed measure that seeks to address the series of oil price hikes and the oil industry crisis in the country.
Go previously filed two bills, one that calls for the suspension of the excise tax on fuel for six months or until the prices of petroleum products stabilize, and another bill that calls for the amendment of the Oil Deregulation Law.
Both bills have been consolidated with other similar bills and filed as a substitute bill, which has been approved by the House Committee on Energy and currently pending on second reading.
The Congress, however, is on recess and will resume its sessions on May 23.
Go said he supports having a special session by the House for them to be able to act on the proposed measure due to the urgency of the current oil price situation, which is being exacerbated by the ongoing Russian-Ukraine conflict, and has sent oil prices in the country skyrocketing successively.
In an interview, Go said there is a need to suspend excise tax on diesel and kerosene and reduce the charge on gasoline, and bring it back to its pre-Train law levels temporarily – for six months or until oil prices stabilize – to provide relief from rising global oil prices.
Fuel excise taxes increased in 2019 up to 2021 as mandated under Republic Act 10963 or the Train Law.
“We (substitute bill co-authors) agreed that we bring the excise tax (rate) to its former price,” Go said.
He added there is also a need to amend the Oil Deregulation Law because it has not been serving its purpose to reduce oil prices in the country by deregulating the oil industry.
“We thought bababa ang presyo because of competition among oil companies, since the law sought to encourage oil players in the field, but hindi ganoon ang nangyari,” Go said.
The substitute bill seeks to amend the law so that the government will require oil companies to unbundle or break down their rates, to determine the expenses and how oil companies arrive at the amounts it charges to consumers.
Once passed, the bill will require refiners, importers, and bulk distributors to submit their retail prices upon implementation of price adjustments to the Department of Energy. They will also be asked to maintain a minimum inventory requirement (MIR) of at least 30 days’ supply based on a per-company, per-depot, and per-product basis to safeguard the country’s fuel reservoir in times of emergencies.
They will also be required to write a weekly MIR compliance report to the DOE. 
The DOE had earlier issued an order for oil companies to unbundle, but the same was not implemented after oil companies secured a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court, before which the matter is pending.  
Go said the bill also seeks to grant the DOE the mandate to monitor retail and pump prices of fuel and other petroleum products, set a price ceiling and maximum rate of increase in fuel prices, and ensure reasonable and transparent prices across the country. – Hanna C. Lacsamana