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DoE to appeal order vs fuel unbundling

August 20, 2019

THE Department of Energy (DoE) is eyeing to appeal separate court orders to move forward with the implementation of a policy requiring oil companies to itemize components of their fuel prices including industry take, an official said on Monday.

“We are currently discussing this with the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) that we, the Department of Energy, is considering appealing that resolution,” Energy Assistant Secretary Leonido Pulido 3rd said in a chance interview.

Pulido said the department’s previous discussion with the OSG, its legal counsel, which took place two days after they received the order, was geared toward filing an appeal. He said they have 15 calendar days to file an appeal from the receipt of the order.

Whether or not a motion for reconsideration was filed, Pulido said the agency cannot enforce Department Circular DC2019-05-0008, or the “Revised Guidelines for the Monitoring of Prices in the Sale of Petroleum Products by the Downstream Oil Industry in the Philippines,” citing recent preliminary injunctions issued against the circular in question.

“Whether or not an appeal was filed, there’s nothing we can do. That order stands. It is a legitimate order of a regional trial court,” Pulido said. “The Department of Energy is bound to respect that. The [fuel] unbundling circular cannot be enforced during the pendency of the case,” he added.

Supposedly to take effect this year, the circular mandates industry players to submit their respective pump and liquefied petroleum gas price movements (increase, decrease or no adjustment), as well as the detailed computation and documents supporting the reason for the price adjustment.

The DoE has been grappling with legal battles as some groups and companies have turned to various regional trial courts to halt the circular’s implementation.

In its July 3, 2019 order, the Taguig Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 70 issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the DoE which lasted for 20 days. The court acted on Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp.’s petition filed on June 24 as the listed firm said the rules would lead the industry back to regulation.

The Mandaluyong RTC Branch 213 followed suit when it granted Petron Corp.’s application for writ of preliminary injunction on Monday. It previously granted a 20-day TRO halting the DoE from implementing the circular in question.

Pilipinas Shell and Petron are members of the Philippine Institute of Petroleum Inc. (PIP) that secured a 20-day TRO from the Makati RTC on June 28. Its other members include Chevron Philippines Inc., Isla LPG Corp., PTT Philippines Corp., and Total Philippines Corp.

Pulido described the preliminary injunction orders as “a pending relief so it runs during the pendency of the court.”

Early this month, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said it consulted the OSG to find “legal ways” to inform the general public about items included in prices of petroleum products.

“We respect the court but it doesn’t mean that we will stop from finding ways to keep the people informed,” Cusi previously said, adding the DoE followed all the procedures including the holding of public consultation prior to the circular’s promulgation.

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