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Smuggling seen in Pangasinan, Bulacan illegal oil cases

/ 09:37 PM January 15, 2014

An oil firm has filed criminal charges against three of its former station dealers in the provinces of Bulacan and Pangasinan for allegedly selling fuel illegally obtained and which were passed off to consumers as the oil firm’s products.

The act, known in the industry as illegal dumping, is often related to oil smuggling, according to copies of complaints filed by Petron Corp.

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In separate complaints filed by Petron at the prosecutors’ offices of Bulacan and San Carlos City, Pangasinan, the firm sued service station dealers Harry Lim, Zenaida Espinosa and Orlando Umangay, whose contracts with Petron had been terminated, for violating the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.

According to affidavits, photos, videos and samples taken from the accused’s stations, several product deliveries made to them did not originate from any of Petron’s depots.

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Umangay, owner of a service station in San Carlos City, Pangasinan, allegedly received fuel from a depot in Mangaldan, Pangasinan from November to December 2013. A copy of his purchase slips from Petron compared with his sales from July to October 2013 showed discrepancies with higher sales volume than delivery from Petron.

An entrapment operation by the National Bureau of Investigation on Dec. 16, 2013 led to the arrest of a truck driver who was caught in the act of unloading illegally sourced fuel. The case against the truck driver is now pending at the Regional Trial Court of Pangasinan.

Following the operation, the NBI also turned over to Petron samples of the illegally sourced fuel.

Several “dumping” activities were also documented in November at Espinosa’s service station in Urbiztondo, Pangasinan. The same trucks delivering illegal fuel to Umangay were seen delivering fuel to Espinosa’s station. Discrepancies in actual sales and deliveries made by Petron were noted from July 2013 to October 2013.

In a separate complaint, Petron also said it discovered illegal deliveries to Lim’s station along Tabang Road, Bulacan, Bulacan from September to November 2013. Lim’s orders from Petron did not match actual sale.

Tests made on fuel samples taken from the accused’s station “confirmed that petroleum products sold in the said service stations do not meet Petron’s and the Department of Energy’s product specifications and standards,” the Petron complaint said.

Following these incidents, Petron terminated the contracts of the three dealers as part of its efforts to curb the illegal practice and protect consumer welfare. Apart from them, 21 other dealers face similar charges for the same offense.

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Illegal dumping is a direct result of oil smuggling. Early this year, the oil industry has called on the government to go after oil smugglers as the country loses at least P30 billion to P40 billion yearly in foregone taxes.

Consumers are also duped into buying fuel with questionable quality.

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