By Charissa Atienza
The House Committee on Energy has passed a substitute measure seeking the creation of the Philippine Energy Research and Policy Institute.
The still unnumbered bill – the proposed “Philippine Energy Research and Policy Institute Act” – calls for the establishment of the Institute to enhance the country’s capability for energy research and policy development. It is authored by AKO Bicol party-list Reps. Rodel Batocabe, Alfredo Garbin Jr., Christopher Co, and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte.
Batocabe said the proposed Institute is expected to conduct pertinent policy research on energy issues and ensure the coordination and timely dissemination of research results to key government agencies to guide policy and decision-making processes.
He said under the bill, the Institute shall provide timely technical assistance to the government on energy policy issues and other related matters; and serve as a medium in bringing together local and international experts in the field of energy through local and international linkages.
Among the functions and powers of the Institute are the formulation and conduct of research development on energy, public policy issues in energy markets, and other pressing issues and problems; establishment of local and foreign linkages; and establishment of research and policy development programs and capacity building trainings on energy.
The bill provides that the Institute shall be under the Office of the President of the University of the Philippines (UP).
It shall be headed by an Executive Director, who will report directly to the UP President, and supported by a Management Committee and Research Fellows.
The bill also calls for the creation of a nine-man Advisory Council to provide the general direction and priorities of the Institute.
“The Council shall also provide policy research areas for study and investigation by the Institute based on its evaluation of the energy landscape; give advice to the Institute on any matter relating to the development of a policy or research areas and the administration of policy research programs; assist in generating resources and obtain logistical and financial support for the Institute; and monitor and review the programs and projects undertaken by the Institute,” according to the bill.
Sitting at the Advisory Council are the secretary of the Department of Energy, the secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, and the director general of the National Economic Development Authority as ex-officio members.
The remaining six members shall be selected by the UP President, each representing the fields of engineering, law, science, statistics, social science, and public health. Three of the members shall be from the academe and three from the private sector.
The House Energy panel decided to allot P200 million for the initial operationalization of the Institute, which shall be sourced from the General Fund.
If the amount is insufficient, the deficit shall be charged against the operation of the current fiscal year and other internal funds of the UP System, it said.
Thereafter, the funds necessary for the continued operation of the Institute shall be assessed annually, and increased if necessary, based on the annual financial plan and included in the annual budget proposal of the UP System, according to the panel.
The committee also sought the creation of a special trust fund to ensure that the Endowment Fund provided for by the measure is separate from the funding for the UP System.
The Endowment Fund shall be established and maintained by the Institute to finance its operations. This includes the purchase of research equipment and facilities, compensation and honoraria of researchers, and other such expenses.