In a move to halt skyrocketing oil prices, Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi appealed to lawmakers to authorize his department to suspend the excise tax on fuel, which aims to lower current pump prices by Php8-10 per liter.
Speaking in an interview on the ABS-CBN News Channel on Wednesday, Cusi said Pres. Rodrigo Duterte cannot suspend the excise tax’s implementation via a mere executive order.
“Just like when the Bayanihan Law was passed, there was a provision to suspend the implementation of excise tax kung papalo po ng $80/barrel in the world market”, Cusi said.
The problem, he added, is that the Bayanihan laws’ effectivity have already ended. Republic Act (RA) 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act expired on June 24, 2020, while RA 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act lapsed last June 30.
The request to suspend the fuel excise tax comes in after a continuous eight-week upward trend in oil prices leading to a seven-peso average increase in just under two months. Pump prices in Metro Manila have reached the mid-Php50 per liter level for diesel and the Php70/liter level for unleaded gasoline.
Cusi is hoping for the Department of Energy (DOE) to wield the authority to move for the suspension, as the government works on its subsidy program for transport drivers and has asked oil firms to “unbundle” the price of fuel for transparency and to give the public a discount.
The DOE has asked Congress to amend RA 8479, better known as the Oil Deregulation Law, in the wake of rising fuel prices to allow the government leeway in addressing sudden or prolonged oil price spikes.