The Taguig City Regional Trial Court Branch 70 issued a 20-day temporary restraining order against the Department of Energy from issuing a circular that seeks to unbundle the components of petroleum prices.
Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. filed the TRO request against the implementation of DC2019-05-0008, titled Revised Guidelines for the Monitoring of Prices in the Sale of Petroleum Products by the Downstream Oil Industry, which aims to promote transparency in oil prices.
Under the circular, oil companies are required to report their “unbundled price adjustments” to include import costs, tax burdens, biofuel costs and other essential cost components that contribute to the changes in retail prices, including industry take or profit.
“The Court finds that there is a cause for issuance of the temporary restraining order to enjoin the defendant from implementing DC2019-05-0008 and to maintain the status quo and preserve the rights of the parties before the matter of the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction can be heard,” said RTC Taguig presiding judge Felix Reyes.
The TRO ordered Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and his subordinates “to cease and desist” from implementing the circular for 20 days from the receipt of the order dated July 3.
Pilipinas Shell said order would ensure the promotion of market competition, saying the circular was is contrary to the law.
The company said it would lose its competitive advantage once it complied with the circular.
“A deregulated downstream oil industry paved the way for a truly competitive market, characterized by many players, varying product offerings, competitive prices, adequate and continuous supply of environmentally-clean and high-quality petroleum products,” Pilipinas Shell said.
“Since deregulation, consumers have enjoyed the freedom to choose their preferred fuels in locations most convenient for them, and at prices that are acceptable to them, availing of discounts, promotions, and other value-added services that their chosen service station offers,” it added.
The country’s second biggest oil company said while the DoE’s mandate was to monitor oil price movements, “we believe that the Circular leads the industry back to the path of regulation.”
“Further, it restricts the timing of price adjustments and requires the submission of critical unaudited information that could be prejudicial to the industry players. The Circular is also unclear and administratively impossible to comply with,” said Pilipinas Shell.
“To protect its assets, operations, and stakeholders, PSPC is questioning the validity of DoE Department Circular No. DC2019-05-008 and will exercise all legal remedies to address this issue. Shell is committed to provide our customers and the motoring public quality fuels to help them get the most value for their money,” Pilipinas Shell said.
The Philippine Institute of Petroleum Inc. has also obtained a TRO against the oil price unbundling circular.