House, Senate panels push for permanency of joint energy commission

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After receiving support from agencies and stakeholders, the House Committee on Energy approved a bill that would give the Joint Congressional Energy Commission (JCEC) permanent status as an oversight body in charge of implementing energy-sector laws. 

House Bill (HB) 9312 or the proposed JCEC Expiration Act aims to remove the expiration period of the JCEC, which is set to end on June 26 by amending Section 62 of Republic Act (RA) 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA)

Philippine Electric Rural Cooperatives Association (PHILRECA) Rep. Presley De Jesus, one of the committee’s vice chairmen, said the removal of the expiration period of JCEC will allow them and the Senate members of JCEC to regularly monitor implementation of the existing laws as well as laws that will be passed during their term.

The permanent status of JCEC also allows the congressional body to exercise congressional oversight over some laws that include RA 11039 or the Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund Act and RA 11371 or the Murang Kuryente Act.

The House panel also unanimously adopted the amendments to the measure sought by Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC) Rep. Sergio Dagooc to extend JCEC’s oversight role to cover all existing energy laws at the EPIRA’s time of effectivity including Presidential Decree 87 or the Oil Exploration and Development Act of 1972 and RA 8479 or the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1998.

RA 9367 or the Biofuels Act of 2006 was not included in the JCEC’s coverage because it has a separate oversight body. 

Committee chairman and Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, De Jesus, and Dagooc are among the principal authors of HB 9132.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and Independent Electricity Market (IEMOP) supported the extension of JCEC and were represented during the committee’s virtual hearing on Monday.

The JCEC was previously known as the Joint Congressional Power Commission and was renamed to represent the expansion of its oversight powers over the energy sector after RA 11285 or the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act was passed in 2019.

At the Senate, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian — chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy — has endorsed the permanency of the JCEC before the plenary through a sponsorship speech for Senate Bill 2220 on Monday.

“Allowing the Commission to become functus officio next month would be detrimental to ongoing reforms within the energy sector,” Gatchalian said.

“The fact that it was the stakeholders themselves that proposed the further expansion of the jurisdiction of the JCEC drives home the energy sector’s unequivocal backing of the JCEC as a cornerstone institution of the energy industry,” he continued.

 

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