House panel tackles substitute bill to create PH energy ‘think tank’

BOAC, Marinduque – The energy panel of the House of Representatives on Thursday started discussion of a substitute bill that seeks to create a ‘think tank’ that will harmonize policies and address gaps in the energy sector in order to ensure a sustainable, secure and steady supply of energy in the country.

In a public hearing via Zoom presided by Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, chair of the Committee on Energy on Thursday, members of the panel agreed on the need to establish the Philippine Energy Research and Policy Institute (PERPI) to strengthen and promote the sector’s acquisition of knowledge in recent scientific breakthroughs, as well as formulation of transdisciplinary research-based policies and strategies for the cost-effective use of energy resources towards environmentally sound energy development.

“We are very hopeful that we would be able to craft the relevant responsive legislation that would establish an energy research and policy institute that will act as the government research arm on energy policy and to enable us to harness the latest and relevant researches on appropriate policy directions and adaptable technologies,” Velasco said.

A similar bill is already approved on third reading in the Senate.

Under the new proposed bill, PERPI will be attached to the Office of the President of the University of the Philippines (UP). Its tasks include conducting independent policy research, planning and addressing energy issues while providing policy direction and advice to regulators and lawmakers, creating a data bank needed for the implementation of functions in accordance with the Data Privacy Act, and tapping digital technologies in dissemination of information.

Part of the function of the institute is to develop a pool of researchers, develop programs and capacity building trainings, provide common research support facilities, establish local and foreign linkages, and serve as a repository of all energy-related researches.

The proposed energy think tank will be headed by an executive director, who will be appointed by the UP president on the recommendation of the Advisory Council. The appointee, who will serve for five years, however, will be required to publicly disclose his/her previous employment and consultancy to avoid conflict of interest, divest all interest in any energy industry participant, terminate all employment or consultancy with industry players, and avoid conflict of interest at all times for the duration of the term.

The Advisory Council, on the other hand, will be composed of nine members, which include the secretaries of the Departments of Energy (DOE), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Science and Technology (DOST), and the director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority as ex-officio members. The other five, who will come from within and outside the state university’s system, will be appointed by the UP president.

All members of the Advisory Council, except for the ex-officio members, shall serve a term of seven years.

The substitute bill is proposing a P200 million initial funding for the creation of PERPI.

Those present at the public hearing were representatives from the DOE, Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management and the Philippine Institute of Development Studies.

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