CITY, July 19 (PNA) ? The
local commercial oil players/dealers may find themselves facing the formidable
competitor in government when the latter pursues the plan of putting up its own
gas pumps and other oil facilities.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) on Firday did not
hide its anger against the alleged unscrupulous petroleum commercial dealers in
this city who are accused of controlling the petroleum prices, which are very
much higher than other cities and provinces in the region and outside the
Provincial Board Member (BM) Tomas D. Abapo, Jr., in
his privilege speech during the provincial board regular session on Friday,
offered a bold move. ?If we cannot lick them, why not join them.? He said that
because LGUs cannot pass local laws that would be in conflict with the national
law, ?a better remedy would be to join them in the fight. If you cannot beat
them, join them. After all, economic enterprise by LGUs is not prohibited
especially if it is for the general welfare of the public.?
Everyone in the session hall — provincial board members
Dr. Cesar Tomas Lopez, Atty. Dionisio D. Balite, Godofreda O. Tirol, Dr.
Elpidio M. Jala, Madelone Y. Rengel, Jovanna Jumamoy, PCL representative
Antonio Ouano, Brigido Z. Imboy, Atty. Benjie Arcamo, during the said regular session, not even
Vice-Gov. Lim, did not oppose his idea of putting up gas pump stations and
He said that while the purpose of the Oil Deregulation
Law is to liberate and deregulate the downstream oil industry in order to
ensure a truly competitive market under the regime of fair prices, adequate and
continuous supply of environmentally clean and high-quality petroleum products.
But this ?has failed.?
Abapo eloquently explained why the Oil Deregulation
Law is a flop. He hastened to add: ?The only problem here is its implementation.
Local stakeholders are generally answerable to the executive department, the
Dept of Energy in this case for their reportorial requirements of their
transactions. Hence, the lack of transparency in the local level like Bohol
wherein we do not even have a sub-office of the DOE. This results to the
inability of the LGUs and local consumers to determine as a matter of fact as
to whether or not cartelization does exist although a host of circumstances
Granting that even the local petroleum players were to
submit their report to the LGUs, ?This can be easily concocted by them to
defraud the public. They have the oil so they have the money, they have the
money so they have the power. And when you have the power, the truth will be what
you make it,? Abapo lamented.
<p>In Bohol, there are already the so-called ?independent
players? that sells similar higher oil prices with the ?Big 3 — Shell, Caltex
and Petron? dealers unlike in other towns that their ounterparts are selling
much lower prices.
Abapo, who said that there a lot of remedies of this
perennial problem of unabated high oil prices here, has proposed for the
provincial government to set up its own gas pump stations apparently to compete
with the private commercial ones who unreasonably jack-up their prices much
higher than what is prevailing in other places in the region.
He said that the repeal of the law, or nationalization
of the oil industry are some of the measures to solve the high petroleum
prices. But this may not work, ?after all, why should the oligarchs be left in
control of the basic commodity such as petroleum which is so intertwined with
the national development. But just like anything, this proposal is also
He recognized that ?energy is an instrument reduction
and social equity as it serves as an enabling factor to channel grassroots
development with the delivery of much needed services to marginalized sectors
of our society.?
He said there are bases for his proposal. The
provincial government, if willing to pursue his proposal, may enter into the
fight competing with private and commercial players in oil industry.
Citing provisions of the law that did not prohibit local
government units to go into economic venture based on the same law (Oil
Deregulation Law), the provincial government is covered under section 3 of said
law. ?This act shall apply for all persons or entities engaged in any and all
activities of the domestic downstream oil industry, as well as persons or
companies directly importing refined petroleum products for their own use.?
He also cited Rule II, section 4 of DOE circular No.
98-03-004, also known as the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Oil
Deregulation Law that provides ?any person may import or purchase any quantity
or crude oil and petroleum products from foreign or domestic source, lease or
own and operate refineries and other downstream oil facilities and market such
as crude oil and petroleum products either in a generic name or his or its own
trade name, or use the same for his or its own requirement. Provided, that such
person shall comply with the notice, reportorial, quality, health, safety and
environmental requirements as set forth in this IRR.?
Abapo, who is a dean of law school of a university
here, also cited the Local Government Code of 1991, or R. A. 7160 as basis for his
proposal. He said that every LGU shall exercise the powers expressly granted,
those necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate,
or incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and those which are
essential to the promotion of the general welfare.
Abapo said that to make this realized in the near
future, the provincial government may appropriate for this purpose, if not, it
may avail of the fund Php300 million in setting up gas pumps as provided by the
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
His proposal is now under study at the Provincial
Legal Office and the Provincial Planning and Development Office.
The veteran lawmaker (Abapo) expressed thanks to his
colleagues in the legislative chamber particularly BM Godofreda Tirol for
supporting his proposal that he hopes may soon solve prevailing high prices of
oil products in the province.
It will be recalled that Tirol also brought to the
attention of her colleagues in the board the grace concern on oil high prices
even as she urged the public to support her call for a lower oil prices.
She even went on to urge the public to put pressure and
their sentiments against the lowering of the oil prices by using the social
The scheduled meeting last Friday of the committee of
the whole of the provincial board temporarily presided over by BM Godofreda Tirol
was literally snubbed by the key players/operators of the Big Three companies.
Except for George Lim, operator of one of the Caltex
stations here, other operators did not show up. Mr. George Lim waited for an
hour plus until the health committee held its meeting on the same venue, the
conference hall beside the session hall of the SP.
Vice-Gov. Lim, who authorizes to preside over the said
meeting on oil high prices, asked an apology for the delay of the said meeting
with the oil key players, who were represented only by their aides. But the
invitee-representatives from other sectors such as the non-government
organizations were in full force waiting just to attend the said meeting.
The committee-of-the-Whole decided to postpone the
said meeting until the next time. The said committee also identified other
private oil operators to be invited the next time around. They are Ms. Evelyn
Du of Petron; Mr. Leo Lim of Caltex; Mr. Iven Lim, whose father is the operator
of Shell in Cortes town; and Mr. Ramon Abelardo of Petron area sales
executive, Mr. Bonifacio Quirog, provincial SP secretary, said. (RVO)