Senator Chiz Escudero is pushing for a comprehensive review of the oil deregulation law in order to strengthen the powers of the Department of Finance and the Department of Justice in monitoring and addressing oil price hikes.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, reiterated this call contained in Senate Resolution (SR) 217 he filed long time ago.

“The situation in 2008 when oil pump prices reached P60 per liter is looming to happen again now, with our Department of Energy (DOE) saying it so,” Escudero said.

“I am calling for an immediate review of the present oil deregulation law to balance the equilibrium between our government agencies concerned and the oil players in the country,” he added.

Escudero said that Republic Act (RA) 8479, or the oil deregulation law, was enacted to equip the DOE with enough powers to monitor the pump prices and ensure reasonable pricing on the basis of prevailing inventory and market price set by oil companies and dealers.

“But those seem to be just lip service for any oil price increase implemented is faster than lightning. Oil companies can easily raise oil prices without having to seek government’s consent. But the reverse is very glaring when decrease in oil is implemented by oil companies and retailers,” the senator said.

Escudero said the transport sector, which bears the brunt of the price escalations, has to seek and plea for the government’s nod for any fare hike to cope with the escalating prices of petroleum products.

SR 217 seeks a permanent solution and not palliatives to the present oil price problem. Instead of an emergency power for the President, it grants him the standby powers to address the impact of any considerable hikes in oil prices and redefines the concepts of cartelization and predatory pricing as provided for in Section 11 of RA 8479.

“We have to give a tangible solution to the heavy loads of our people from economic realities. We need a solution so that our people can cope with the soaring commodity price increases,” he said.

Escudero urged his colleagues to prioritize the review of the oil deregulation law, citing Section 2 of the existing law which says that it is the policy of the state to liberalize and deregulate the oil industry to ensure a truly competitive market under a regime of fair prices, adequate and continuous supply of environmentally-clean and high petroleum products.