A DAVAO city councilor seeks to crack down on the proliferation of the "bote-bote", the illegal selling of gasoline and diesel along the city's major thoroughfares and in far-flung areas following complaints of gasoline station owners.
The sale of the retail gasoline and diesel are found even in subdivisions and along the highways, particularly in Davao-Bukidnon road. They are usually sold in used soft drink bottles, thus the name.
Davao City Council floor leader Councilor Bernard Al-ag said the continuous operation of the business appeared to have adversely affected sales of the gasoline stations. He added that "bote-bote" has been observed anywhere in Davao City.
Al-ag said there were about 40 gasoline station operators who already sought the City Government's support to make an ordinance prohibiting the illegal selling of gasoline and diesel on the main thoroughfares and far-flung areas here.
"The petroleum industry in this city is evolving and plays an important role as a contributor to the economy. In 2017, we foresee more entrepreneurs who will come and invest here," Al-ag said, adding that the issue must be addressed.
Al-ag said "bote-bote" has been operating for quite some time already, exposing the people and the seller itself to risks, posing threat to lives and property because they do not practice safety measures.
He also said that the products the illegal peddlers are selling run the risk of not complying with the Philippine National Standards (PNS) on liquid petroleum product quality as we are not certain if their sources run quality control.
"The peddlers also deprive government the taxes, which should have been used for public projects and initiatives. We do not want to wait for any accident to happen before we do something about it," Al-ag said.
He added that the "bote-bote" is a serious fire hazard and may endanger nearby houses and establishments where the products are being sold. The Department of Energy (DOE) earlier urged all local government units to look into this matter as the practice is not only illegal but is also hazardous. It also said that the "bote-bote" has indirectly affected the oil prices in Mindanao.
DOE also appealed to the public to buy from authorized and formal gas stations only, instead of patronizing illegal liquid fuel peddlers, as this does not assure “proper fuel quality and right quantity.” Al-ag said petroleum dealers have been penalized by the City Treasurer's Office who has a jurisdiction over the sealing and testing of dispensing pumps, for the acceptable calibration authorized by the DOE.
In a Circular No. 2003-11-010 of the DOE, it said pumps could have an allowance of 50 milliliters for every 10 liters as measured by a calibrating bucket certified and sealed by the DOST-ITDI.
The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) also requires all gasoline stations on the different types of fire extinguishers every year; otherwise they will not be issued a mayor's permit.
"Issues like this does not only concern the business of the petroleum dealers but also government revenues and the lives of the general public," Al-ag said.
The councilor moved for the passage of the item on the first reading and referred the matter to committee on energy during the regular session.