GenSan moves against underweight LPG tanks

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/07 August) – In a bid to strengthen its ongoing crackdown against the underweight or under-filled liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders, the city government is pushing for major amendments to an ordinance that regulates the refilling, retailing and distribution of LPG in the area.
Teodorico Dumagan, assistant city administrator, said there is a need to revisit the penal provisions of Ordinance No. 2 or the city’s LPG ordinance to effectively stop the proliferation of underweight LPG cylinders in the local markets.

Ordinance No. 2, which was passed in 2006, specifically regulates the “hauling, refilling, dealing/retailing of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and the manufacture/repair of LPG cylinders, providing penalties for violation and for other purposes.”

“This problem has continued to worsen in the last several years and I think it’s about time for us to give more teeth to the ordinance and expand the coverage of its penal provisions,” he said in a committee hearing on Monday called by the city council’s consumer protection and welfare committee.

A report released by the city’s LPG Task Force, which is supervised by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), showed that it had seized some 84 under-filled LPG tanks in the last five years.

Of the total haul, 62 were manufactured by Pryce Gas, 10 by Petronas and six each by Shellane and Petron Gasul.
Last March, the task force recovered 22 underweight LPG cylinders that were all manufactured by Pryce Gas, which has a refilling plant in nearby Polomolok town in South Cotabato.

But based on the ordinance, Dumagan said only the stores or retail outlets where the adulterated LPGs were found would be subjected to penalties, which covers fines of P1,000 to P1,500 and the revocation of permits and licenses.

He said the liability does include the manufacturers based on the “last touch principle” as cited by the DTI.

“The manufacturers are also liable in the proliferation of these adulterated LPGs so they should also be fined and have their licenses revoked in case of further violations,” Dumagan said.

The official cited the continuing proliferation of underweight LPG cylinders refilled by Pryce Gas was “alarming.”

Pryce Gas officials could not be reached for comment but an attendant at its retail station noted that most of the confiscated LPG tanks bearing their brand were usually old and had some leaks, causing them to eventually become underweight.

In addition, Dumagan said the ordinance should include specific provisions for auto LPG outlets in the city that refill tanks that were only specified for household use.

Filling up an 11-kilogram LPG tank through an auto LPG outlet may only cost around P200 to P300 to consumers but such practice is illegal and strictly prohibited due to safety considerations, he said.

Councilor Elizabeth Bagonoc, chair of the city council’s consumer protection and welfare committee, admitted that the task force’s concerns showed that there is an immediate need to revisit and amend the provisions of Ordinance No. 2.

“These concerns are valid and alarming for our consumers. We really have to address these now,” she said.

Bagonoc said her committee will immediately push for the amendments to the ordinance once the LPG Task Force and the local government formally present their recommendations and proposals. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)