NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION. EDITING AND PROOFREADING WAS DONE BY BC’S PRINT ARM.
Even as fuel consumers were savoring the low diesel prices offered by several white (unbranded) fuel stations in the province at a low price of P36 per liter while branded stations were scrambling to lower their pump prices to match the ten-peso price difference per liter, the Provincial Government of Bohol (PGBh) was paying an average of P62.19/liter to its fuel supplier for the month of January.
Documents furnished to the Chronicle revealed that the PGBh paid to PetroBest (Petron) the amount of P968,771.74 for 15,570.255 liters of diesel fuel issued to the Provincial Engineer’s Office (PEO) for the period January 14, 2021, to January 28, 2021.
THE GREAT DIFFERENCE
What drew the attention of those who saw the document was the actual pump price per liter of diesel fuel as reflected in a summary of issuances ranging from P61.48 from January 14, 2021, rising to P62.59/liter up to January 25, 2021, then slid to P62.49 per liter on January 26, 2021.
According to sources closely familiar with diesel retail pump prices told the Chronicle that the average actual pump prices for the period covered by the summary report from the PEO ranged from P46.00 to P48.00 per liter.
The summary of issuances from the PEO under the columns “actual pump price” and “discounted price” showed an intriguing similarity of prices.
No explanatory notes were found to define “actual pump price” and “discounted price.”
The actual pump price is defined by the Department of Energy (DOE) as the price of diesel oil established by fuel stations for the day.
LOWER PURCHASE REQUEST
The PEO submitted a purchase request (PR) for the purchase of diesel fuel for January 14-28, 2021 at P52.00/liter but were dumbfounded when the PGBh paid Petrobest between P61,48/liter and P62.59/liter.
Two purchase requests submitted by the PEO furnished to the Chronicle indicated a purchase request for 49,701 liters of diesel fuel at an estimated cost per liter of P50.30 for a total estimated cost of P2,499,960.30. This request is under emergency purchase.
Another purchase request for 63,007 liters of diesel fuel at an estimated cost per liter of P50.30 for a total estimated cost of P3,169,252.10 and is scheduled for bidding.
HIGHER PURCHASE ORDER
The Chronicle learned that the final price that will be reflected in the purchase order will be pegged at P62.00/liter following the usual practice as reflected in the summary of issuances as reported by the PEO.
In the case of the figures appearing in the summary of issuances, the discounted price paid by the PGBh is on the average P10.00 per liter higher than the P52.25 per liter reflected in the PEO’s purchase request.
The Chronicle source appeared baffled by the unexplained increase in the final price per liter of diesel describing the transformation as “mysteriously magical”.
Although the increase can be attributed to the nature of the transaction which is “on credit” and the fluctuating price of diesel fuel, the difference is still substantial that would translate into a hefty spread to those “on the take”.
The Chronicle source also revealed that they have no control over the pricing pegged during the bidding although the price appearing in the purchase receipt the PEO submits is apparently absorbed in the bid price.
The purpose for the request to purchase diesel fuel is for the use of heavy equipment, service vehicles, and other ancillary services for the Provincial Motorpool and other divisions of the PEO.
For the month of January, the PGBh has a balance payable of P1.6M after the fifth partial payment under the approved purchase order worth P5.5M, according to documents in possession of the Chronicle.
The mode of procurement for diesel fuel is the alternative methods of procurement as provided by Republic Act No. 9184 known as the “Government Procurement Reform Act”.
Allegations of overpriced fuel purchases by the Provincial Government of Bohol (PGBh) that made the rounds in social media have raised mounting criticisms over the brazenness of reckless spending of government funds.
Additional documents relating to the diesel fuel purchases are still under validation by the Chronicle. (Chito M. Visarra)