Extend price freeze on LPG, kerosene amid COVID-19 — Gatchalian

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With the enhanced community quarantine expected to go beyond April, Senator Win Gatchalian is calling on the government to extend the price freeze on Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) which households commonly use for their day-to-day needs.

Gatchalian made the call as the prevailing price freeze on LPG and Kerosene products is set to lapse on March 31. The Department of Energy (DOE) earlier imposed a 15-day price freeze on LPG and kerosene products after President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of calamity in the entire Philippines due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The Senate Committee on Energy chairman said imposing a 15-day price freeze on LPG does not make any sense since the price determination of the socially-sensitive product is conducted on a monthly basis.

Given the prevailing health crisis situation in the country, Gatchalian urges the DOE to recommend to Duterte to extend the price freeze while the enhanced community quarantine is in effect.  The senator cited DOE’s Department Circular 2016-08-0013 stating that prices of LPG and kerosene will become normal after the 15-day price freeze, unless a mandated price freeze is imposed by the President, upon the recommendation of the DOE.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has earlier announced a nationwide price freeze on all basic goods and necessities for 60 days, unless lifted by the President. The DTI has emphasized that household LPG and kerosene are the basic goods under the DOE. In the commercial sector, LPG consumption rose at a rapid pace of 10.4 percent annually from 2007 to 2017, as reported by the DOE.

“The DOE should extend the prevailing price freeze until the situation has normalized to ensure that all Filipinos are protected from any price manipulation during the entire enhanced community quarantine period,” Gatchalian said.

On March 2, oil companies decreased the price of LPG by P3.90/kg or about P42.90/11-kg cylinder. Auto LPG likewise decreased by P2.20/liter. In Metro Manila, the price of household LPG ranges from P612.10-735.10 per 11-kilogram cylinder.

Aside from calling for a price freeze extension, Gatchalian also urges the DOE to be vigilant against unscrupulous traders who will take advantage of the crisis. He urges the public to immediately report pricing abuses to the DOE.

The lawmaker also calls for a close collaboration between the DOE and local government units (LGUs) to ensure the unimpeded delivery of energy services during the entire enhanced community quarantine period.

Gatchalian said that LGUs that fuel and petroleum products are included in the Inter Agency Task Force’ guidelines on products allowed to be transported./Stacy Ang

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