NEWLY appointed Cabinet Secretary Melvin Matibag said on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, that President Rodrigo Duterte will meet with his Cabinet members to come up with a “more solid and long-term response” to the looming fuel crisis amid the series of oil price hikes brought about by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Matibag said Duterte mentioned the possibility of calling for an emergency session for the Congress amid calls for the suspension of the Oil Deregulation Law, particularly in the collection of fuel excise tax.

“There should be some legislation to address this looming problem,” he said in a television interview.

“The problem is alam naman natin na there’s an oil deregulation law that’s been a problem a long, long time ago. So, it should be addressed...Siguro what should we do with this problem is to amount with a solution. Not only a short-term solution but a long-term one. Maybe time for Congress to take a look at the oil deregulation law if it still serves the public interest,” he added.

The Oil Deregulation law lifts the government’s control on oil-related pricing activity and trade restrictions.

Petroleum companies implemented anew a P7.10 per liter increase on gasoline price, P13.15 for diesel and P10.50 for kerosene.

The Department of Energy said that in the event that Dubai crude reaches $120 per barrel, gasoline prices may reach P78.33 per liter, while diesel may increase to up to P68.97 per liter.

Initially, to help the drivers and fishermen affected by the oil price hike, the National Government released P3 billion as fuel subsidy.

Duterte also approved the proposal of National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Director General and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua to double the fuel subsidy of the transportation and agriculture sector.

The second tranche of the subsidy will be distributed in April.

Lawmakers earlier called for the suspension of fuel excise taxes to cushion the impact of increases in the prices of petroleum products.

Senator Franklin Drilon said he sees no legal impediment that would prevent the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue to suspend the collection of excise tax on fuel products.

The Department of Budget Management earlier expressed apprehension in the suspension of excise fuel tax, saying this will result in loss of funds for social services and the Department of Social Welfare and Development. (SunStar Philippines)