CEBU

Consumer group lauds governments crackdown vs illegal LPG trading

A NON-government organization commends government enforcement agencies for the series of actions taken against the illegal trading of LPG which have been proven risks for use in households.

Consumer watchdog Pinoy Aksyon for Governance and the Environment (Pinoy Aksyon) had issued a call for authorities to zoom in on the dangerous trade after two persons died in a fire during an illegal refilling or decanting of LPG tanks in Cagayan de Oro on Sept. 19, 2020, and another fire in San Roque, Talisay City Cebu on Sept. 24, 2019.

Over a week ago, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group seized nearly half a million worth of LPG tanks in Allen port in Northern Samar in the agency’s effort to clean the LPG market of the extremely dangerous illegal trading of LPG.

A case has been filed after the operation and is now handled by the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor in Allen, Northern Samar. BP 33 as amended by PD 1865 prohibits illegal trading of petroleum products while RA 5700 is the law regulating the use of steel containers. Decanting or illegal refilling of LPG cylinders is prohibited by RA 8479 or the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1998.

"We understand that the Department of Energy has limited enforcement capability, thus this action of the CIDG is very commendable. We are happy for there being a champion of consumer protection and public safety," said BenCyrus G. Ellorin, chairperson of Pinoy Aksyon.

Ellorin also shared what he said was an equally laudable CIDG operation three days ago or on Oct. 19 in Igpit, Opol, Misamis Oriental which also resulted in arrests and confiscation of illegally traded LPG.

On the Samar case, it was last Oct. 12, 2020, when CIDG Northern Samar provincial officer Major Norman Ala deployed his officers Patrolmen Romnick Orcojala and John Kenneth Orbista to seize a truck loaded with 332 pieces of 11kg empty cylinders of LPG at the Balwartico Port, barangay Looc in Allen, Northern Samar as it was about to board a Roro ferry for Matnog, Sorsogon.

The cylinders did not bear the Standard Compliance Certificate as required by the Dept. of Energy (DOE).

Investigations reveal that the empty LPG cylinders labeled Pryce Gases Inc. (PGI) were loaded on a six-wheeler Foton Tornado truck with plate no. GB 5913 allegedly acquired illegally as ESGVI, which is not a subsidiary of PGI nor authorized to possess, transport, and traffic LPG under their brand.

The investigation further showed that the Foton Truck carrying 332 pieces of 11kg LPG cylinders was on its way to the Calauag, Quezon Province Branch of the ESGVI. These LPG cylinders, according to the investigation, were acquired by ESGVI from their branch in San Vicente, Catbalogan, Samar. Upon delivery at the Calauag, Quezon plant of ESGVI, the illegally acquired LPG cylinders of PGI would allegedly be altered, the brand name of PGI defaced, refilled, and sold superstitiously under the ESGVI brand. The LPG cylinders seized has been valued at P498,000 or P1,500 each.

Arrested were driver Eric Mahilum, 35, truck driver and Gilbert Openiano, 30. The two are now temporarily freed after posting a bail of P36,000 each. Included in the charge sheet for violation of Batas Pambansa 33, as amended Presidential Decree 1865 and Republic Act 5700 is Engr. Darwin Dorado, operations manager of ESGVI in Catbalogan, Samar. (PR)


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