MANILA -- The Department of Energy (DOE) asked oil players in Mindanao to explain the price drop in gasoline products as it investigates possible predatory pricing.

Based on the monitoring of the DOE-Mindanao Field Office (MFO), gasoline prices in Mindanao have fallen by as much as P8 to P12 per liter to around P30 since the first week of September.

DOE said that sudden and sustained huge decreases in oil prices might qualify as an “anti-competitive behavior” under the Oil Deregulation Law.

This market behavior put both the smaller oil players and the consumers at a disadvantageous position in the long run.

Smaller oil players may actually lose its market share and end up closing, allowing the remaining oil players the chance to dictate prices to the detriment of the consuming public.

Other issues brought about by this market behavior include the peddling of petroleum products in bottles, or the so-called the “bote-bote” scheme, and the alleged smuggling of oil products from nearby countries.

The DOE-MFO has already been coordinating with local government units (LGUs) concerned and the Bureau of Fire to eliminate the “bote-bote” scheme while also discouraging consumers from patronizing such activity as this may endanger public safety and health.

On the alleged smuggling of oil products, the DOE is now in talks with the Bureau of Customs, as this may hurt not only the oil industry players but also the economy of LGUs in Mindanao and the rest of the country.

Taxes are lost, affecting the delivery of basic services to our people.

DOE earlier coordinated with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to form the DOE-DOJ Task Force to determine any violations of the law. (PNA)