Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said that Pres. Rodrigo Duterte can call for a special session in Congress where they could review Republic Act 8479 or the Oil Deregulation Law.
In a BusinessWorld report, Sotto – who is running for Vice President – said that it may take a while to review the law, but he is willing to do so if needed. Sotto had voted against the law, which was signed by former Pres. Fidel Ramos in 1998.
Congress is currently on its campaign break, which ends on May 22.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, has also expressed his openness to reviewing the law to improve the transparency among industry players and assess the benefits to consumers. He added that reviewing the 24-year-old law could be helpful in optimizing the country’s oil industry.
Gatchalian likewise commented that the country’s overdependence on imported oil is a major problem, making local prices susceptible to global oil shocks.
Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, is open to reviewing the law to find a long-term solution to address the impact of soaring fuel prices. However, he said most legislators are preoccupied with the elections, making it difficult to be thorough while drafting amendments, adding that the debates may be influenced by politics.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has reiterated its appeal for the law’s amendment.
On the executive side, Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi said in a report by The Philippine Star that local oil prices will take a bigger hit if the conflict between Russia and Ukraine persists.
While the country is not experiencing disruption in oil supply, Cusi has asked the public to conserve the use of petroleum and electricity. The secretary has appealed to candidates not to go on motorcades and caravans for the meantime to save on fuel.
Amid the continuing rise in fuel prices, the DOE will propose to oil companies to “stagger” increases in fuel prices next week to help cushion the effect of rising oil prices on consumers.
“We will discuss with the oil companies. It’s a good idea, but the problem is if prices also increase in the succeeding weeks,” Energy Usec Gerardo Erguiza, Jr. said on Wednesday.
Photo from Sen. Vicente Sotto’s website