Bill proposed to deter ‘cartel’ behavior in downstream fuel industry

A LEGISLATOR said he is proposing a bill to thwart the formation of a monopoly in the downstream oil industry.

The alleged “lack of transparency” in the pricing mechanisms of the Philippines’ oil majors raises the possibility of potential collusion, according to Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian.

The legislator, who also leads the Senate energy committee, said he is “planning to file a bill that will give more teeth to existing laws in the downstream oil industry.”

His office is also “studying ways to strengthen the anti-trust safeguards in the Republic Act No. 8479 (Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act) and how it can interact with the Philippine Competition Act.”

The Supreme Court recently barred a Manila court from ordering a review of the books of accounts of Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., and Chevron Philippines, Inc.

In 2009, a Manila Regional Trial Court ordered the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Internal Revenue, and Commission on Audit to examine the companies’ accounts for any evidence of collusion. The agencies declined, saying that such examinations exceed their mandates.