Enrile’s fuel import figure needs context

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University of the Philippines Journalism Department
Last modified
Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - 19:41
Screenshot of itanong mo kay Manong Johnny


I think I would calculate about 60 percent or more of our fuel needs in the country...energy needs...are imported.

    -- Juan Ponce Enrile,  Inquirer 990 Television: Itanong Mo Kay Manong Johnny, Feb. 4, 2019

Senate bet Juan Ponce Enrile’s “60 percent or more” figure needs context.

If he were referring to last year’s energy situation, his estimate of the country’s energy imports can’t as yet be verified.

To date, data on the country’s energy supply and demand in 2018 are still unavailable, the Department of Energy’s Policy Formulation and Research Division said in an email.

But Enrile would be consistently off if his estimate pertained to preceding years: Energy imports have never reached “60 percent or more” of either total energy supply or energy use.

Net energy imports comprised 49.1 percent of the country’s total energy supply in 2017, according to the Department of Energy’s 2017 Philippine Energy Situationer.

Net energy imports as a share of energy use, on the other hand, averaged 45.6 percent from 1971 to 2014, data from the World Bank show.  As a share of merchandise imports, the average for fuel imports from 1971 to 2017 is even lower: 16.6 percent, according to the World Bank.

The former Senate president tossed the “60 percent or more” figure in the Feb. 4 interview Itanong Mo Kay Manong Johnny in Inquirer 990 Television, a video clip of which was uploaded to his official Youtube channel on March 7 (watch from 2:06 to 2:19).

He said reviving the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant would ease the foreign exchange requirement for fuel importation.  

Construction of the plant began in 1976 and was completed in 1984 during the Marcos presidency. Corazon Aquino ordered it mothballed in 1986 amid safety concerns and allegations of funding irregularities.

Of the country’s net energy imports in 2017, oil and oil products made up 67 percent, coal 32.3 percent and biofuels 0.7 percent, the DOE said.   Net imports accounted for 46.1 percent of the total energy supply in 2016, it said.


Source: 2017 Philippine Energy Situationer

World Bank data show net energy imports as a percent of energy use in the Philippines at 50.3 percent in 1972 when martial law was imposed; dropping to 35.9 percent in 1987, a year after the nuclear plant was mothballed; surging to 56 percent in 1997 during the Asian financial crisis, then declining to 45.7 percent in 2014.

Fuel imports as a share of merchandise imports, on the other hand, range from a low 7 percent in 1998 to a high 32.7 percent in 1982. It stood at 18.5 percent in 1987 and 11.2 percent in 2017.

Source: World Bank


Department of Energy Philippine Energy Situationer. (2017). 2017 Philippine Energy Situationer. Retrieved from https://www.doe.gov.ph/sites/default/files/pdf/energy_statistics/2017_philippine_energy_situationer.pdf

Enrile, J. [Juan Ponce Enrile]. (2019, March 7). JPE on TAPPING NUCLEAR POWER ENERGY [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYaXdCH5V0I

World Bank (2018). Energy imports, net (% of energy use) in the Philippines [Data file]. Retrieved from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.IMP.CONS.ZS?end=2014&locations=PH&start=1971

World Bank (2018). Fuel imports (% of merchandise imports) in the Philippines from 1971 to 2017 [Data file]. Retrieved from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/TM.VAL.FUEL.ZS.UN?end=2017&locations=PH&start=1971


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