TAGBILARAN CITY Amid the complicated circumstances surrounding the unusually high fuel prices in Bohol, the provincial government appeared posing
another round of threat if the the Big 3 — Caltex, Petron and Shell –remain unyielding to the demand in reducing further their petroleum products.
In fact, some provincial board members are concocting a grand design that appeared to literally boycott gas pump stations to further put pressure on the alleged cartelized Big 3 to bring their oil prices down. Earlier on, the provincial government as proposed provincial Board Member Atty. Tomas D. Abapo, Jr. that, if feasible, it will put up its own gas pumping stations to literally compete the commercial dealers, mostly run by the Big 3. Abapo’s proposal, which is welcomed by his colleagues, is now under study by the Provincial Legal Office and the Provincial Planning and Development Office. Initially, part of the plan is to halt procuring/purchasing gasoline or diesel by big volume from the Big 3 for the provincial government’s use for its numerous heavy equipment and service vehicles. Another bold step under the said plan is for the provincial chief executive to exert influence to local government units in the municipalities and the national government agencies to shift their procurement to white station’s fuel supply from the Big 3 suppliers. This means millions of pesos will definitely be
lost from the Big 3 income sales monthly, say some PhP200,000 to Php300,000 worth of fuel monthly consumption of the provincial board, if the said plan pushes through. There were no immediate response or reactions from both the Big 3 and the white stations from this plot.
Price roll-back The Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s Committee-of-the-Whole Operators succeeded to convince white stations to lower their unleaded gasoline prices by PhP1.25 during last weeks meeting at the Capitol. The report has this to say: They made a concensus to take away the giving of discounts and lower the price of unleaded gasoline to P1.25 per liter lower than the prevailing price posted by the Big 3 in Tagbilaran City, and that their respective prices will be displayed on their price boards effective August 16, 2014, the report said. The said Committee recommended to inform the consuming public on this development even as it expressed appreciation to the concerned gas stations which heeded the call for rolling back the fuel prices. But this remains to be seen since it has to have an impact on the part of the Big 3 gas stations, according to one of the board members.
Vice-Gov. Concepcion Lim, BMs Atty. Dionisio D. Balite, Atty. Venzencio Arcamo, Dr. Cesar Tomas Lopez, Elpidio M. Jala, Antonio P. Ouano, Jr., and Engr. Gerardo C. Garcia and Godofreda Tirol, who was authorized to preside over the committee meetings affixed their signatures to the committee report.
Buckpassing At first glance during the committee hearing, the operators of white stations refused to give up their stand — not to lower first their fuel prices so that the Big 3 will follow. Earlier during the second round of committee hearing, the Big 3 challenged the white stations to lower their fuel prices. As a result, the committee members are confused. Manju Lim and Vice-Mayor Iven Lim, both operators of Caltex and Shell part of the the Big 3 gas stations told the committee that the white stations should first make the first move — rolling back fuel prices.
They argued they cannot make such move because as they admitted it is their Manila-based offices who are calling the shots and dictating the fuel prices in Bohol. Alma J. Pie, operator of white stations in Alburquerque town said that they cannot lower their fuel prices since they’re offering to their customers discounts to the tune of Php2.00 per liter. Barney N. Balingkit, another white station operator based in Valencia town reinforced Pie’s contention. He told the
committee how come we can lower the fuel prices theyr are selling when at the same time they’re offering discounts of Php2.00/liter. He said that they (white stations) are already at a disadvantage since the Big 3 stations are offering a lot of discounts such as the DOE lane to their customers.
They (white stations) retorted the allegations by the Bif 3 that theyre operating and buying their supply from bogus sources. They manifested that their business is legal as reported by the committee. They are legitimate business operators complying all the licensing requirements, as well as, the DOE regulations. They further reiterated that their gasoline supplies passed the quality standard processing for they procure it from Cebu which the same came from the refineries in Bataan and not finished products from outside of the country direct sources, the committee said. They admitted however that they did not make their prices posted on price billboards since they already offer discounts.
Price War Pie one of the white station operators said that they’re already in price war among themselves. At the same time they’re at price war with the Big 3.
She said that they don’t want what happened to Cebu City, where some of the white stations closed shop since they cannot afford anymore to compete the Big 3 especially in lowering their fuel prices. To keep them afloat, she said they just tried to offer discounts to their customers just keep in break even.
The Big 3 stations in the city and nearby towns where they also operate are also in cold price war. They’re just selling a little difference from what their competitors are selling, an operator said. Former Mayor Myrna Naldoza Schreurs said that her white station in Garcia-Hernandez has competitors called bottle stations. Though these bottle stations are selling higher prices that what she’s selling but they’re not spending administrative and other costs including taxes.
Aside from this, she said, bottle stations have no investment since they are being provided with fuel stock on credit by unscrupulous suppliers. Among those present during last weeks committee hearing including Ethan Uy Boiser operator of JLN filling station in Ubay town; Pie of Alburquerque, Bohol; Balingkit of Valencia; Martin Lagura, Jr., San Pascual, Ubay, Bohol; Marivel Suarez operator of white stations in Danao, Sagbayan and Inabanga, Bohol; Leo C. Plazos, Jr., GTL filling station; Isabelo Carpo Yu, operator of white station in baranga Dao and bus terminal; and Joel Bautista operator of Manga gas pump station.