The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) on Wednesday debunked unconfirmed reports spread through social media claiming that petroleum was smuggled into the province through the Catagbacan Port in Loon.
According to PPA manager Engr. James Gantalao, the operator of the barge which transported the liquid fuel and funneled it to tank trucks on Sunday had a temporary permit to use the Catagbacan port which was approved in December last year.
“Naa to sila’y approval agtong December pa. So kadtong giingon nila na smuggling, mura’g di ‘to kay gi-inspection man to everyday unya naa toy contingency plan as far as requirement sa safety and security as atong pantalan. So legal to ilang operation,” said Gantalao.
For his part, Edgar R. Asibal, division manager of the PPA’s terminal management office in Loon, said that an oil spill containment boom has been deployed at the Catagbacan Port.
“Just in case nga naay oil spill didto, naka-contain na na siya didto sa area ra na gidungguan,” he said.
Seaoil Philippines Inc. administered the transport of petroleum while the permit to use the port was applied for by one Joseph A. Luzano based on PPA records, Gantalao added.
It was the third time that the same barge transported liquid fuel through the Catagbacan Port.
Gantalao said that the Filipino-owned fuel company was supposed to transfer its petroleum from Cebu through the Tagbilaran City Tourist Port but the said pier has been full and unable to cater to more vessels.
“Gikan mani sila sa Cebu nilabang ra ni sila. Gusto nila sa Tagbilaran pero di man gud nato ipa-utilize ang Tagbilaran kay puno. So ang Catagbacan wa may gagamit temporarily so kita mi-coordinate ana nila ug legal silang gipa-apply,” he added.
However, Seaoil’s transportation of fuel products through the Catagbacan port has been suspended as of Tuesday following the PPA’ s imposition of a new policy requiring the firm to apply for renewal of accreditation at the agency’s head office in Metro Manila.
Gantalao said that once the firm secures a permit from the PPA’s central office it will again be allowed to operate at the Catagbacan port.
“So kung way permit sa Manila, di na pud ta mo-approve,” said Gantalao. (Allen Doydora)