By Jezza Nepomoceno
ILOILO — Vendors who will continue the sale of liquid petroleum products in unsafe containers here can be held liable under the law, warned Provincial Director Diosdado Cadena Jr. of the Department of Trade and Industry.
Cadena confirmed that the sale of liquid petroleum products in soda bottles, plastic containers, jugs and other similar portable containers is considered illegal under Department of Energy (DOE) Department Circular No. 2003-11-010.
Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. asked Cadena to shed light on the issue after some gasoline station owners sought his help earlier this month complaining that their sales and operations have been affected by it.
“Their business is threatened since drivers will prefer those in soda bottles because these are much cheaper compared to theirs,” Defensor said suspecting that the supply of liquid petroleum products sold by erring vendors came from illegal activities like fuel pilferage or smuggling.
Under the Circular, Cadena explained that illegal retail of liquid petroleum products must not be patronized because it can expose the consuming public to fire, security, health and environmental risks.
It also denies the public the proper quality and quantity of the liquid petroleum they purchase, and deprive legitimate retail outlets of additional sales volume.
The government will likewise be denied of revenue derived from licensing fees, local business taxes and pump calibration charges, among others if the malpractice continues.
Section 5 of the Circular provides that storage, handling, transfer and/or dispensing of liquid petroleum products shall be subject to the following:
- Liquid petroleum products shall be transferred only from underground tanks by means of fixed pumps designed and equipped to allow the control of the flow and prevent leakage or accidental discharge.
- Liquid petroleum products shall not be dispensed from above-ground tanks, portable tanks, tank vehicles, drums, barrels or similar containers, e.g. bote-bote, into the fuel tanks of motor vehicles or containers.
Cadena pointed out the Circular can be used by the Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine National Police and Local Government Unit in preventing the proliferation of “bote-bote” petroleum retailing in their locality.
“The Circular can be used…It may be reinforced by a local ordinance enacted by the local council and the same can still be enforced by BFP, PNP and the LGU combined or individually,” he said.
BFP has the powers to confiscate all fire hazards immediately, according to Cadena citing Rule 13 of Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 9514 or the 2008 Fire Code of the Philippines.
“When an abatement order is issued by the city or municipal fire marshal and the offender fails to comply, stoppage of operation or closure shall be resorted to. Again, confiscation may be or may not be necessary depending on the situation and nature of the existing hazard and the danger it poses to the community,” he elaborated.
Stoppage of operation or closure of the establishment can be resorted to when the deficiency constitutes a clear and imminent danger to life and property and stoppage of operation or evacuation is extremely necessary.
“The next question after confiscation would be where to safely store the confiscated flammables or combustibles? If the answer to that question is not clear, better not confiscate,” advised Cadena.
Moreover, Cadena clarified that DOE’s Department Circular No. 2003-11-010 does not conflict with Republic Act 9514 and the Fire Code and its IRR. Instead, they complement each other.
The Circular itemized in Section 7 the documentary requirements for petroleum retailing which includes the part of the BFP in Fire Safety Evaluation, Fire Safety Inspection and Issuance of FSIC and FSEC.
DOE has no implementing arm in the locality. What the LGU can do is to “expound on the tenets of the Circular, the Fire Code and build upon such authorities if they really want to prevent the proliferation of bote-bote petroleum retailing. BFP can always be counted for the support,” he said.