By: Jemin B. Guillermo
ROXAS CITY, Capiz – More than 21,000 liters of petroleum products were confiscated by the Department of Energy (DOE) from illegal traders in Capiz.
In a raid conducted by the DOE’s Enforcement Team, 16,346 liters of gasoline and 5,644 liters of diesel were seized from six large distributors and retailers of liquid fuels in the towns of Dumarao and Ivisan and Roxas City.
DOE-Visayas OIC-Director Rey Maleza said the raiding team was led by DOE-Visayas legal officer Russ Mark Gamallo with the assistance of PNP.
“The action was done based on complaints received on the rampant proliferation of illegal trading of petroleum products, commonly known as bote-bote (bottles),” Maleza said.
He said criminal charges for violation of Batas Pambansa 33 or the law that prohibits unregulated sale of petroleum products, as amended, will be filed against nine individuals who were selling liquid fuels without authority from the DOE.
“The enforcement is a continuing activity of the Department to promote safety, consumer protection and fair trade practice in the downstream oil industry,” Maleza said.
He added that storing large volume of flammable petroleum products in non-standard facility or inside un-prescribed containers endangers lives and properties.
Usually, illegal petroleum products sold are sourced from “paihi” or pilfered fuel stocks, he said.
Aside from “bote-bote,” DOE-Visayas is strengthening its enforcement against illegal refilling of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in non-compliant containers.
Several fires in the Visayas were caused by leaks in LPG canisters.
“These one-time use canisters were previously filled with butane but later refilled with LPG,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Maleza urged the local government units to enact local ordinances to regulate illegal retailing of petroleum products and to provide investment opportunities for legitimate retailers to come in.
He also asked the support of local law enforcement agencies to address the illegal activities in the downstream oil industry considering DOE’s limited manpower and locations. (JBG-PIA/DOE-Visayas)