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Sometime in the years when Martial Law was still in effect, Filipinos have been forced to "pila-pila" or stand in lines in order to buy gasoline at rationed amounts and relatively high prices.

Current speeding fast increases in oil costs with no end in sight have not only brought back images of those "pila-pila" for most. It also opened up a seemingly good idea then which is turning out to be the opposite.


Thus far, the Department of Energy (DOE) and DOST CALABARZON, through its Regional Volumetric Calibration Laboratory (RVCL) in Kumintang Ilaya, Batangas City, have agreed to join efforts in monitoring the gasoline retail market. 

They have recorded the mushrooming in various points of the CALABARZON Region of mobile gas stations that sell liquid petroleum products (LPP) in bottles. LPP retailing, most consumers believe, is the practice that can curtail the monopoly of the big players in the industry. 

Unknown to most, the solution of retailing LPPs in bottles is turning out to be a problem. Rampant adulteration of LPPs, uncalibrated dispensing pumps, and storage tanks placed above ground are only a few of the hitches. Such tanks are disposed to gas leaks while their locations, often close to thickly populated residential areas, are open to fires which can be hard to control. 

In addition, small-budgeted car owners are not only cheated of hard-earned cash. They are also placed in danger of meeting accidents due to car malfunctions caused by the tainted product.

Acting on these, DOE, DOST IV-A, and RVCL, during a forum in Los Banos held in January, will be joining hands with the local government units. The joint exercise aims to stop the proliferation of unsafe practices in the LPP retailing business.

A concerned government agency has long banned the selling of LPPs in these conditions. Their department circular passed in 2003 dictates such acts as punishable by law. But, very few sellers if none at all have been reprimanded or had their stores closed. 

The mobility of the "bote-bote" stores makes them hard to catch. This contributes to their uncurbed proliferation and to the notion that if these are widely available, then these must be safe.

With DOST IV-A and DOE at the helm, LGUs promise to enforce the criteria for retailing of LPPs once these have been established. This means all vendors of LPPs will be required to accept a code of business practices in retailing. On the other hand, DOE and LGUs are united in their task to compile into a single document all national and local issuances on LPPs. The act will ensure that concerned government bodies will be using one technical reference in the granting of permits for retail outlets. 

Having laid out their proposed actions, the group foresees a lessening of the problems on unsafe fuel storage, mishandling and transfer, and uncalibrated dispensing of LPPs. (AMGuevarra\DOST IV-A S&T Media Service)

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