THE Department of Energy (DOE) has ordered at least 23 gas stations to explain why fuel prices are higher in Baguio City than in La Union, a lawmaker said.
"Consumers in Baguio City deserve a full explanation on this matter and an immediate reduction in the prices of fuel to be at the same rate with Rosario, La Union. We welcome the move by the DOE and the issuance of show-cause order by Energy Secretary Cusi to the 23 gas stations in Baguio for the overpricing of fuel," said Baguio Representative Mark Go.
Cusi, reports said, is pushing for the revision of the oil deregulation law, so the DOE can enforce a policy that seeks to unbundle fuel prices. He then issued show-cause orders to 23 gas stations in Baguio City to explain the difference in the oil prices.
Go said he will re-file the bill amending Republic Act (RA) 8479, or the Oil Deregulation Law, that would give more powers to the DOE in monitoring and regulating the prices of fuel and other petroleum products, including the power of the DOE secretary to set a price ceiling and fix the maximum rate of increase in fuel prices.
"We have been long experiencing this unreasonable and unfair fuel price discrepancy between Baguio and Rosario, La Union, and other parts of North Luzon and this is the main reason why I filed House Resolution (HR) 44 to investigate the continuing disparity and overpricing of oil and fuel products in Baguio. I filed the same resolution (HR 853) during the 17th Congress and four committee meetings were conducted by the House Committee on Energy to discuss and inquire into the matter," he said.
Go added that when the investigation started during the 17th Congress, price disparity ranges from P10 to 12 per liter for gasoline and P6 to P8 for diesel.
"As a result of our persistent appeals and separate meetings we made with the big oil companies, a reduction of fuel prices on an average of P5-P6 per liter decrease for gasoline and P1.50 to P2 per liter decrease for diesel was implemented by the three major oil companies namely Petron, Chevron and Shell," Go said.
"A significant disparity still prevails between the pump prices of fuel in the province of La Union and Baguio City. As of August 2019, the disparity remains at P6 to P6.41 per liter for gasoline and P4.73 to P5.04 per liter for diesel," Go added.
Included in the bill, according to Go, is the assurance of the state to show reasonable and transparent prices for petroleum products and to prevent monopoly, oligopoly, combination in restraint of trade and unfair competition in the industry.
Go said the committee on energy will set a hearing to discuss HR 44 when Congress resumes on November 4 and will invite the DOE and all stakeholders to resolve this pressing issue.
Section 7 of RA 8479 or the Oil Deregulation Law provides that the Department of Trade and Industry and DOE shall take all measures to promote fair trade and prevent cartelization, monopolies, combinations in restraint of trade, and any unfair competition in the industry.
It also states that the DOE shall monitor the relationship between the oil companies (refiners and importers) and their dealers, haulers and LPG distributors to help ensure the observance of fair and equitable practices and to ensure the enforcement of existing contracts.