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Palace asks Congress to review oil deregulation law

Malacañang on Wednesday called on Congress to review the oil deregulation law amid the weekly increases in oil prices and the ongoing situation in Ukraine that is expected to have an economic impact on the Philippines.

At a press briefing, acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the review on the oil deregulation law is among the medium-term measures agreed upon during Tuesday's top-level special meeting presided by President Rodrigo Duterte.

"For the medium term, we call on Congress to review the oil deregulation law, particularly provisions on unbundling the price and the inclusion of the minimum inventory requirements in the law, as well as giving the government intervention powers or authority to intervene when there is a spike and/or prolonged increase in prices of oil products," Nograles said.

Under the law, formally known as the Downstream Industry Deregulation Act, government control is removed to help oil companies become more competitive with their supply and pricing of petroleum products.

Congress had adjourned session last February 4 and will only resume session by May 23 or after the May 9 national and local elections. The break was for the campaign period for the candidates.

Congress, however, can resume session if no less than the President calls for it. But a week ago, Nograles said there is no indication that Duterte will call for a special session so Congress can act on measures that will address the unabated oil price hikes, including suspension of fuel tax on oil.

Mitigating measures

Nograles also said that the President also approved the recommendations of his economic team to strengthen the domestic economy, stabilize food prices, and provide social protection, as well as distribution of fuel discount vouchers for farmers and fisherfolk amid the rising oil prices.

Nograles said Duterte also approved the recommendations of the Department of Agriculture to boost local food production.

"Kasama na rito ang pagpapataas ng produksiyon ng pagkain sa pamamagitan ng pagpapatupad ng Plant, Plant, Plant Part 2; pagpapataas ng rice buffer stock na hindi bababa sa 30 araw; pamamahagi ng tulong pinansiyal sa ating mga nagsasaka ng palay; at pagtugon sa tumataas na presyo ng abono o pataba," he said.

Nograles said assistance to farmers could be through fertilizer subsidy and market access through bilateral discussions with fertilizer-producing countries.

"President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has given assurances that mitigating measures and contingency plans will be in place as part of the government's proactive response to the conflict in Ukraine," Nograles said.

Also present during the meeting were top military and police officials. —with Llanesca T. Panti/KBK, GMA News