By Myrna M. Velasco
As the Department of Energy (DOE) made manifestation at the Court that it will need to republish its Circular, the much-anticipated implementation of the fuel costs unbundling policy will have to be deferred from its originally targeted enforcement today (June 29).
The re-publication move was deemed crucial because of the “Annex A” portion of the DOE Circular No. 2019-05-0008 which had not been included in the June 14 original publication date of the policy.
Annex A in particular touches on Section 8 of the DOE Circular that requires the oil companies to submit detailed computation of pump prices and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) within two months after the effectivity of the fuel unbundling mandate.
A hearing on the temporary restraining order (TRO) petition of the Philippine Institute of Petroleum (PIP) had been slated Friday (June 28), but the Makati regional trial did not rule on the TRO prayer because of the DOE’s manifestation on the Circular’s re-publication.
The PIP is an organization of the country’s major oil companies – namely Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., Chevron Philippines, along with Total, PTT Philippines and Isla LPG Corp..
The energy department indicated that it was slated to re-publish the Circular with the “Annex A” part also on Friday (June 28).
Given the legal time leeway on a policy’s enforcement following compliance to publication requirement, it has been qualified then that the unbundling or segregation of cost items being passed on at the pumps will likely be deferred for another 15 days.
The itemization of cost components of the various fuel products being retailed at the pumps is a protracted battle advocated by various groups – including the Laban Konsyumer Inc.
But between the DOE and the oil companies, it had always been a tug-of-war drift from the time the policy was broached to the public consultations and up to the time that the Circular was finally issued.
By a great deal, the main initiator of the policy is no less than Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, who had repeatedly sounded off his desire the see the numbers accounting for “profit margin” being raked in by the oil industry players.
That move of the department has so far been gaining degree of support from the public especially at times when prices at gasoline stations are relentlessly going up.