Almendras forms oil price monitoring committee
- Ted P. Torres () - February 1, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras has formed the seven-member oil price monitoring committee of the Department of Energy (DOE) to be headed by former budget secretary Benjamin Diokno.

The Independent Review Committee (IRC) will tackle the issue of alleged overpricing of oil companies.

Its findings will be forwarded to Congress and the Department of Justice-DOE joint committee for appropriate legal action.

Speaking to reporters, Almendras yesterday said legal action might be in the form of criminal or administrative charges.

“They (IRC) will also look at the structures of oil deregulation, submit the review to the House of Representatives and Senate, and also give the findings to the joint committee,” he said.

Almendras said the DOE will only assist the IRC in terms of technical requirements for the review.

However, it will be the IRC that would ask the oil companies to submit whatever is required for the investigation, he added.

Other members of the IRC are former professor at the MBA Program of the UP School of Business Administration Rene Azurin; former finance secretary and present chairman of the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) Jesus Estanislao; consumer rights advocate and head of the Government Watch (formerly Consumer and Oil Price Watch) Raul Concepcion; associate professor and program director of the Strategic Business Economics Program of the University of Asia and the Pacific School of Economics Victor Abola; lecturer and member of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), and a partner at Tagnia Ortega & Partners Dexter Ortega; and national chairman of 1-United Transport Alliance Koalisyon (1-UTAK) and a partner at the Malcolm Law Offices lawyer Vigor Mendoza. 

House welcomes IRC

The creation of the IRC was welcomed at the House of Representatives yesterday.

Bataan Rep. Henedina Abad, House committee on energy chairman, told The STAR the IRC was necessary for “transparency.”

“This is what we want to happen and that the DOE display its vigor in really looking (into the books),” she said. “What’s happening is ‘she said, he said.”

“Transparency in determining (fuel) prices is important.”

However, Ang Kasangga Rep. Teodorico Haresco, House committee on small business and entrepreneurship development vice chairman, cautioned that the IRC’s work should not be seen as harassing oil companies.

“What we need to avoid is the perception that we are going on a witch-hunt,” he said.

“Any accountant good enough can easily look at the numbers, how much oil was imported, how much it cost, and we can easily (see) the (price) gap and ask them why there is such a gap.”

Meanwhile, UTAK party-list is part of the seven-man independent monitoring body on oil prices which the DOE had formed.

UTAK Rep. Mendoza said as part of the monitoring team, they aim to find a resolution to the issues raised by transport groups.

“There were many concerns raised by transport groups and we hope to resolve them,” he said. – With Paolo Romero, Cze Valencia

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