July 17, 2019 at 07:50 pm
Alena Mae S. Flores
The government’s move to unbundle oil prices is not a form of regulation contrary to the claims of oil companies, an official of the Energy Department said Wednesday.
“The unbundling circular was issued in the first place since the secretary is of the belief that the asking of information and not the dissemination of information is expressly authorized under the Oil Deregulation Law. It is in no way a form of regulation,” Energy Assistant Secretary Leonido Pulido said.
Oil companies convinced the Taguig City Regional Trial Court Branch 70 to issue a 20-day temporary restraining order against the Energy Department from issuing a circular that seeks to unbundle the components of petroleum prices.
The oil firms asked the court to stop the implementation of DC2019-05-0008, or the 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.
Pulido said the department was discussing with the Office of the Solicitor General its next legal steps.
“We are discussing with the OSG whether we file for a motion for reconsideration or we appeal. The reason why the meeting with OSG is critical is we need to meet a decision point to decide if it is practical to appeal the TRO and file a motion for reconsideration or just wait for it to lapse,” he said.
Pulido said the agency was confident that “we have enough to convince the relevant courts that the preliminary injunction should not be issued.”
Pulido said the agency supported the deregulation of the industry because it was beneficial to the country and allowed competition to flourish.
“But then again, it does not mean that it has robbed the secretary or the DoE of its mandate of being able to implement the proper policies under the Oil Deregulation Law,” he said.
“That mandate cannot be fully satisfied unless the department can be given all the information required,” Pulido said.
Under the DoE 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 oil companies said they would lose their competitive advantage once the circular was implemented.