Avoid illegal LPGs, says industry stakeholders

LPG Safety Foundation (LPGSF), together with the LPG Industry Association (LPGIA), the LPG Marketers Association (LPGMA) Party-List, the Department of Energy, the Department of Trade and Industry and other government agencies kick off the 2-day Iloilo leg of the nationwide LPG Regional Summit in Iloilo City on Wednesday, May 24. (Joseph B.A. Marzan photo)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Stakeholders of the liquified petroleum gas (LPG) industry on Wednesday said consumers should recognize and avoid “illegal” variants of LPG products that are not up to industry safety standards.

The LPG Safety Foundation (LPGSF), together with the LPG Industry Association (LPGIA) and the LPG Marketers Association (LPGMA) Party-List, kicked off the 2-day Iloilo leg of the nationwide LPG Regional Summit in Iloilo City on Wednesday, May 24.

The summit intends to be a nationwide caravan to reach out to consumers and industry participants, as well as partner government bodies, on Republic Act No. 11592 (LPG Industry Regulation Act) and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

It was signed into law by then-President Rodrigo Duterte in 2021, but the summit is only being held this year, citing the lengthy formulation of the IRR.

Government bodies present include the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Bureau of Fire Protection, who are the key stakeholders under the law, as well as representatives from the Maritime Industry Authority, and the local government units (LGUs), among others.

The new law provides that prospective industry players must secure a permit from the DOE before starting any activity, including bulk supply, refilling, bulk consumption, and other commercial operations.

DOE Oil Industry Management Bureau (OIMB) Director Rino Abad said that the new law provides for the accreditation of LPG players by the DTI, and likewise other regulatory roles by the DOE, the BFP, and the LGUs.

Abad said the discipline towards industry players, big or small, would focus heavily on their licensing rather than law enforcement.

“There’s a tight standard. We have been tight before, but now requirements for an [LPG industry] player before getting their license [to produce and market LPG] have been clarified. […] If 80 percent of your licensing is disciplined, only 20 percent would be left for law enforcement for those who don’t follow,” Abad said.

Rey Maleza, Chief Science Research Specialist of the DOE, added that the long list of penalties under the law is intended to “scare” illegal players.

He said that features in the individual LPG cylinders, with standards set by Rep. Act No. 11592, would render it easy to identify those who do or do not follow.

“Before, if one had no license, they will be fined ₱60,000, [and] if they don’t pay within 1 or 2 years, that would remain at ₱60,000. Now, it’s down to ₱5,000, but [on the basis] of per day of operation. So, as time goes by and one doesn’t comply, their penalty will increase. Because the main purpose of the law would be [to protect] end-consumers, every violation that affects the end-consumer will increase in penalty,” Maleza explained.

Abad said that they are currently preparing appropriation requirements to intensify their campaign in implementing the law through additional human resources and materials.

But Maleza said that it would mostly be up to the consumers if they acknowledge the existence of the illegal LPGs, emphasizing that these should not be bought.

He said that there would be further campaigns of the DOE and DTI together with the LPG industry stakeholders to advise consumers to be wary of the LPG products and services they avail, but he was unable to specify what these were.

“Eventually, whatever we would be doing in the government, with industry stakeholders, it’s not enough without the participation of the end-consumers themselves. We have no power of the end-consumer has already bought, except to advise them on how to use, if they buy it even if it was illegal and non-compliant with standards but because of convenience or low price,” he said.

The second day of the summit today, May 25, will have industry stakeholders including manufacturers and dealers.

This is the second leg in the Visayas of the regional summit, which had already made stops in Cebu and 3 other stops in Luzon. Its last 2 legs will be held in the cities of Davao and Cagayan De Oro in the next weeks.