LAWMAKERS still have time to change the country’s Oil Deregulation law even if President Rodrigo R. Duterte decides not to call for a special session, according to the Senate president.

“It’s a little tight but it’s possible,” Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III told Radyo Singko News in Filipino on Monday. “If it is truly necessary, we can probably pass that by the last week of May.” 

Congress, which is on an election campaign break, will resume sessions on May 23 until June 3 before it is replaced by the next Congress.

Although issues remain, since there is a need to convert into the Presidential Canvassing Board, he said the schedule can still be discussed to fit a proper review of the Republic Act No. 8479, also known as the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1998.

Senators have sought a review of the law that removed government control on fuel pricing, exports and imports amid surging global fuel prices.

Mr. Sotto said he wants to outlaw unwarranted oil price increases. “It shouldn’t be like that,” he said, citing price increases for old stock.

Senate Bill 868, which seeks to amend the Oil Deregulation law, is pending at a Senate committee. “Although I have not read the whole bill, my opinion as of now would be that we need to open the door so that there is still government regulation.”

Mr. Sotto also said the Senate does not have time to concur on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The next president would have to resubmit it to the Senate in July, he added.

The mega-free trade deal involving Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations was signed in Nov. 2020. It has been in force in 11 countries since Jan. 1. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan