SC: DOE may take over oil industry during “national emergency”

supreme court

The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that the Department of Energy (DOE) has the power to seize control over operations in the oil industry, under the president’s directive, should an emergency happen. 

In a decision authored by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the SC had declared Section 14 (e) of Republic Act 8479, or the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1998, constitutional.

This directive permitted DOE to assume reins over the operations of private enterprises in the industry “in times of national emergency, when the public interest so requires.”  

The court ruling countermanded the Court of Appeals’ 2013 decision which rendered the provision unconstitutional. 

Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo along with twelve other associate justices supported the decision.

The SC cited arguments made by petitioners Former Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza and DOE-Department of Justice (DOE-DOJ) Joint Task Force; stressing that in times of natural emergency, it was within the purview of the chief executive to acknowledge it and the delegation to the energy department was appropriate.

In other words, the heads of the executive departments could represent the president in their respective roles. 

SC added that under Article VI, Section 23 of the Constitution because the legislature would only be able to provide the president emergency powers under certain conditions and for a restricted period, the takeover power would have certain constraints.