Filipino households will no longer have to deal with the consequences of having illegally-refilled and poor-quality Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders once the LPG Act is passed, according to Senator Win Gatchalian.
Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, has recently filed Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1188 or An Act Providing for the National Energy Policy and Regulatory Framework for the Philippine LPG Industry which aims to strengthen and streamline the laws and regulations overseeing the domestic LPG industry.
This will govern the following activities in the LPG value chain: importation, refining, refilling, transportation, conveyance, distribution, marketing of LPG and manufacturing, requalifying, exchanging, and swapping of LPG pressure vessels. The said act covers all LPG industry players from the bulk suppliers, refillers, brand owners and marketers to the dealers and retailers.
“By providing a comprehensive legal framework, this measure seeks to institute reforms in the LPG industry, address concerns in health, safety, security and the environment and effectively ensure that consumer welfare remains paramount,” Gatchalian said.
Data from the Department of Energy (DOE) show that in 2011, 53% or 49,174,460 Filipinos relied on LPG for their basic needs, such as cooking, water heating, and lighting needs. The DOE also reported that in the commercial sector, LPG consumption rose at a rapid pace of 10.4% annually from 2007 to 2017.
In filing the bill, Gatchalian took into consideration the reported LPG-related accidents this year and in 2018 which resulted in the loss of lives, limbs and properties.
“Notwithstanding the noteworthy contribution of LPG in addressing the energy needs of Filipinos and the Philippine economy, the regulation of the industry has failed to keep up. This is evidenced by a series of accidents involving LPG causing loss of life, limb, and property,” the lawmaker from Valenzuela said.
The DOE will be tasked to regulate, supervise, and monitor the LPG industry participants. The bill sharpens the teeth of DOE to implement and ensure compliance with the quality and safety standards prescribed in the Philippine National Standards (PNS).
The proposed measure will require LPG players to secure a license to operate for a specific activity prior to their commencement of commercial operation. Under SBN 1188, the DOE will have the exclusive authority to issue the license to operate which will be valid for three years.
SBN 1188 enumerates the corresponding administrative and criminal penalties for specific violations such as hoarding, underfilling, illegal refilling and engaging in an activity without a valid license to operate, among others.
Fines range from as low as five thousand pesos (P 5,000) to as high as ten million pesos (P 10,000,000) depending on the offense. Penalties also include suspension of the license to operate, permanent disqualification from engaging in any activity as an LPG industry participant, impounding of LPG products and even imprisonment, depending on the nature of the violation.
Meanwhile, as the country expects a rise in LPG consumption this holiday season, Senator Gatchalian reminds everyone to be wise in buying LPG cylinders to enjoy a risk-free season.