The Department of Energy in the Visayas said yesterday that liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) dealers, who are supplying backyard “butane” refilling stations, will face administrative and criminal charges.
Lawyer Russ Mark Gamallo, legal officer of DOE’s Visayas field office, said dealers who will get caught delivering LPG contents to illegal refilling plants will face criminal charges and, if found guilty, will be slapped with a fine of P20,000 to P50,000, or imprisonment of two to five years, or both.
Gamallo said they will also face administrative fines or cancellation of their standards compliance certificate, a permit issued by the DOE to legally registered LPG traders and refillers.
“For suppliers who are legally doing business and covered with DOE permit but supporting backyard refilling, income is very fast and return of your investment is so fast. You should know that you are promoting illegal refilling of LPG canisters (butane) which may cause danger to the lives, limbs, and properties,” he said.
Gamallo’s remarks came after the local police in Liloan, a northern town of Cebu, on Monday filed criminal charges before the Office of the Provincial Prosecutors against individuals who were caught during the raid of a backyard refilling plant in Barangay Calero on Holy Thursday.
He said the raid was conducted after the Philippine Eco-Gas Producers Cooperative, represented by Edgar Armecin, received information that some persons were engaged in the refilling of canisters known as “butane”, or sachet LPG, without securing a permit from DOE.
The police conducted a “test-refill” using a sack-load of empty canisters to verify the video presented by Armecin showing the illegal refilling activity inside the plant.
During the raid, a delivery truck arrived to withdraw tanks used to refill canisters with liquefied petroleum gas. The driver and helper divulged to authorities the name of the dealer, not knowing it was a police operation.
“I then asked if they owned the LPG tanks, and they said “Sa amo nang amo Sir” (they are owned by our employer) and when I asked who their boss was, the driver and the helper answered “si Stanley Go sir,” Armecin said in his affidavit filed before the prosecutor’s office.
Gamallo confirmed that Go is a legitimate LPG dealer. However, he said the DOE will conduct an investigation to determine Go’s liability for supplying LPG to an illegal refilling plant.
The police filed criminal charges against Emilisa Capute who was arrested inside the backyard refilling plant, and Bethoven Gian Montes and Jovan Lavador Mansueto, Go’s truck driver and helper, respectively, before the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor.
The police said they will file a separate complaint against two others, namely Jenny Igot and Jofrey Ibanez Liston, who eluded police arrest during the operation.
Lawyer Vincent Roel Tabuñag, the counsel of PEPC, said they may include Go in the regular filing of the complaint as he was not present during the raid.
They will face illegal trading, trademark infringement, unfair competition, and illegal refilling charges, he said.
They will present to the court as evidence 52 tanks of LPG weighing 50 kilos, one tank of LPG (11 kilos), 1,000 PEPC butane canisters, 951 Tripler butane canisters, 289 Aguila Gas buane canisters, 169 Botin canisters, an Isuzu truck, one automatic refilling machine, four manual refilling machines and 2,964 canisters of different brands.*PNA