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The Committee on Energy of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has called the attention of the appropriate government agencies to step-up their efforts against the alleged oil smuggling activities in the province of Palawan.
During the committee hearing with oil players in Palawan and other concerned agencies of which they discussed the high price of fuel last week, the oil companies also divulged that they are affected by illegal selling of oil and fuel in the province.
“There are reports of rampant smuggling of oil, fuel and other petroleum products involving deep sea fishing vessels and fuel tankers in the high seas, as well as in the [coastal] waters of Palawan,” Board Member Ryan Maminta, chairman of Committee on Energy, disclosed during the interview last Jan. 21 while their regular session was on recess.
Maminta said that under the “paihi” system, as what the locals called it, the illegal traders sell petroleum products to other sea-going vessels at a cheaper price compared to regular products by siphoning them from their hulls and tanks. He said that according to the reports, the illegal activities occur in the coastal waters of Linapacan and Culion and in the surrounding waters of the Sulu Sea and West Philippine Sea (WPS).
As an immediate action of the Energy Committee of the Provincial Board, they filed a resolution earnestly requesting the law enforcement authorities such as the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), PNP-Maritime Group, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and Bantay-Dagat Palawan to intensify and strengthen their efforts in stopping the aforementioned illegal practices within the province of Palawan, primarily in its coastal waters. Authors of the said resolution which is now already approved in First and Final reading are BM Maminta and the members, Board Members Leoncio Ola, Cesario Benedito Jr., Albert Rama, and Ex-officio Member, ABC President Ferdinand Zaballa.
“Ni-raise ng mga oil [company] owners na talamak ang oil smuggling sa high seas. [That’s why] we formally requested them (concerned government agencies) to conduct joint effort, [at] i-intensify [ang] effort nila to fight illegal smuggling.
“Sila (oil ccompanies) ang nag-request niyan, meaning sila ang mga apektado dahil may mga entities allegedly in the province na nag-i-smuggle. We don’t know pa kung sino ‘yung mga beneficiaries, so, we do intensification effort [against the illegal activities],” Maminta said.
They called the illegal practice as “economic sabotage” as the oil, fuel and other petroleum products being sold in “Paihi system” are not taxed, and greatly affects the legal business of legitimate sellers.
“Pag tinangkilik ito [ng mga Palawenyo], paano sila (mga kompanya) makababawi? Nakababawi ‘yung mga oil players by raising the price of the fuel…So, sila nag-request sila sa komite na sana tulungan sila ng Provincial Government na ma-call ‘yung attention ng Bureau of Customes, PPA, BIR, [at] DTI para masawata ‘yung oil smuggling in high seas,” he added.