The cooperative of the Bohol Employees’ League (Bopel) is considering putting up and managing its own gasoline stations in this city—apparently as part of efforts to bring petroleum prices down.
This is very possible as there are already cooperatives running gas stations in the province, a report quoted Benjie Oliva, Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), as saying during the committee hearing presided over by acting Vice-Governor Atty. Benjie Arcamo last week.
BOPEL officer Romulo Garcia of the Provincial Veterinarian’s Office said, however, that the BOPEL coop’s proposal to put gas stations should be studied with the feasibility preparation, after which, it should be presented to the body during an assembly soon.
When asked by BNT if there are many petroleum dealers in the province, will it bring gas prices down, BOPEL officers answered in the affirmative.
Oliva, who attended the said committee hearing of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Bohol, earlier alleged that, like fish trading, petroleum trading here may be manipulated by a cartel.
It will be recalled that veteran provincial Board Member Atty. Tomas D. Abapo, Jr. brought up to the attention to his colleagues of the seemingly few people allegedly dictating petroleum prices in the city that are higher than other provinces and cities in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Acting Vice-Governor Atty. Benjie Arcamo, earlier, told SP-sponsored radio program that the provincial government’s plan to put up its own petrol stations is viable.
But this has to be studied well, he said, considering that the said proposal advanced by Abapo, Jr. is still referred to the appropriate committee.
Earlier, Provincial Legal Officer Atty. John Mitchell “Boloy” Boiser, acting as Provincial administrator, bared that government units are allowed by law to engage in business just like any ordinary or private business.Atty. Boiser was apparently responding to the proposal of his law mentor Abapo for Capitol to establish its own gas stations obviously to counter sky-rocketing pump prices of petroleum products believed to be controlled by a cartel.
He said that after the twin move of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) earlier that “we are still in the process of studying” as far as the viability of Abapo’s proposal.
He said the government may function in a proprietary capacity.
This came even as the controversy over the “never-ending” high price rates of petroleum that made Capitol spending so much time investigating and its resources refuses to die down.
In his recent privilege speech, Abapo was able to convince his colleagues in the approval of twin measures he introduced to ease the burden of the petroleum users.
Without dissent from among his peers, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) on Friday approved a Resolution urging the governor “to direct Provincial Economic Enterprises and Management Unit (PEEMU), a newly created unit; Provincial Legal Office (PLO); Provincial Internal Audit Office to conduct a feasibility study on the legality and financial legality of setting up provincial-owned gas stations in the city and in Bohol.”
The SP also passed a separate Resolution requesting the congressmen of the province “to pass a bill regulating the nation’s petroleum industry and to provide funds to stabilize oil prices.” The approved Resolutions be furnished to all provincial boards in the country, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Senate president.
Abapo cited the Local Government Code of 1991 that provides for the province “can enter into a business enterprise.” And for this, “why don’t we set up our own gas stations and sell at lower prices and still gain,” Abapo said.
He proposed to first start with at least 5 gas stations—2 in the city and one each in every district. If these gas stations he proposed realized, he said that Capitol has already captive customers but he described them “built-in customers” such as its offices—provincial engineer office, motorpool, and other government departments. (rvo)