1-PACMAN party-list Rep. Michael “Mikee” Romero renewed his call to establish the Philippine Strategic Fuel Reserves (PSFR), which is said to address the country’s shortage in fuel reserves while also acting as an anti-inflation measure when there is an increase with world oil prices.
His remarks follow President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement saying there is nothing to be done about the volatile oil prices due to the country’s lack of oil supply.
The House Assistant Majority Floor Leader, who is also an economist, said the creation of a PSFR was contained in House Resolution No. 1936 that he filed in May last year.
The bill would authorize the president to use the necessary amount from the Malampaya Fund in order to initially fund the PSFR.
Under the resolution, concerned agencies in the government such as the Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Energy (DOE), and the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) were tasked to set up and manage the PSFR with available, viable, and secure storage facilities.
The bill also also asks the president to issue an Executive Order that would create the PSFR.
The resolution also asks the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to command oil firms to manage their fuel reserves at levels enough to meet the daily consumer’s demand for 45 to 60 days.
Romero noted that the national strategic fuel reserve has long been an option for the Department of Energy (DOE) to address energy concerns.
He said the DOE can require oil companies to increase their minimum fuel buffer from the current level, which is between 15 days to 30 days.
In order to encourage oil companies to increase their inventories, Romero suggested that stocks in the fuel reserves can be exempted from excise and value-added taxes as a form of incentive.
“This would make maintaining those reserves financially viable and ultimately good for consumers because fuel from the reserves will be cheaper at the gas pump,” he said.
Other energy departments of member countries of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have been eyeing the idea of strategic fuel reserves, he added.
“The Philippines’ strategic reserves could be part of the ASEAN fuel reserves. If our reserves are not enough to meet domestic needs, we can withdraw from the ASEAN stocks. I hope the DOE will work hard to expedite the work done thus far on the fuel reserves plans,” Romero said.
Meanwhile, President Duterte said the country could only rely on imported oil during his speech at the distribution of Land Ownership Awards to farmers in Buluan, Maguindanao.
He compared the Philippines to neighboring countries, saying that the country is not as blessed as Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia when it comes to having own oil resources.