(PNA file photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – The Department of Energy (DOE) on Tuesday proposed that mechanisms of Republic Act (RA) 8479 or the Oil Deregulation Act be provided with a framework for the government to intervene and address sudden or prolonged oil price hikes, including unbundling the cost of petroleum retail products to determine their real and passed-on costs

During the Senate Committee on Energy's consultative meeting with oil industry stakeholders, DOE Undersecretary Gerardo Erquiza Jr. recalled that Secretary Alfonso Cusi previously issued Department Circular 05-0008 series of 2019 requiring the unbundling of oil prices for its data gathering and policymaking function.

Upon the opposition of oil industry players, Erquiza said the circular was subjected to an injunction by the courts despite the DOE’s argument that the "unbundling policy" is not violative of the RA 8479.

"That is why we want this to be incorporated in the law para may ngipin ito at makita natin talaga ang (so that it will have teeth and we can really see the) transparency," he told the committee.

Equiza also suggested that if the Senate decides to suspend the fuel excise tax, it should be incorporated into the minimum inventory requirements of RA 8479.

The Committee on Energy, chaired by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, conducted the consultative meeting to hear the concerns and recommendations of stakeholders regarding constant oil price hikes.

Erquiza likewise lauded the incoming administration for its plans to tap nuclear power as an alternative energy source and lessen the effects of oil price hikes.

Senator Imee Marcos said the "seductive" proposal would take a long time.

“Maybe we are looking for quick wins in the next few months because we will be faced with this problem and the sectors that will be impacted are so large, transport and agriculture, and neither of which will benefit from the nuclear proposal just yet,” Marcos said.

Erquiza admitted it is a challenge to respond to the world market but they are looking to improve the current fuel subsidy system.

He also appealed to consumers to conserve fuel in order to lower the demand and consumption of petroleum products. (PNA)