OIL firm Petron Corp. has filed criminal charges against eight of its former station dealers for illegal “dumping.”
Petron said it has evidence that these dealers were getting fuel from illegal sources and then passing them off to unwitting consumers as Petron products.
This practice, also called dumping, is a form of unfair competition punishable under the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines or R.A. 8293.
“Let this serve as a warning to those unscrupulous businessmen. We will not tolerate dumping in Petron stations,” the oil firm said.
Among those charged were former dealers Nestor Orfanel of Catanauan, Quezon; Faustino D. Bulaga of San Miguel, Bohol; Connie Figueroa of Bani, Pangasinan; Paul Galicia of New Bataan, Compostela Valley; Alma Yap of Central Caraga, Davao Oriental; Roberto Soncuya of Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat; Hanny Copia of Gen. Santos City; and Corazon Agatep of the Agatep Group of Bantay, Ilocos Sur.
Meanwhile, Kelvyn John Que of Bani, Pangasinan, who supplied illegal fuels to Figueroa, is also facing criminal charges.
Petron also filed similar complaints against Nancy Chan of Tarlac City, Tarlac as well as Constante Oandasan and wife Marissa of Magsingal, Ilocos Sur.
Petron has also terminated its contracts with these dealers. Petron said it has pulled out all its equipment, branding materials, and ceased deliveries to the eight dealer-owned stations to stop the respondents from cheating the public and curb this illegal practice.
The eight service stations represent less than one-half of one percent of Petron’s total service station network of 2,200.
“Nevertheless, new dealers will be appointed to ensure continuity of supply in these affected areas,” said Petron in a statement.
The move, according to Petron, is one way of protecting consumers.
“Petron has been a trusted Filipino brand for more than 80 years and we have been strong advocates of consumer protection and welfare. We will continue to closely monitor our retail network to stop this illegal activity,” said Petron.
Since 2013, Petron has terminated the contracts of over 30 service station dealers for dumping activities.
The company said regular monitoring of all its service stations pumps led to the discovery of the discrepancies in the respondents’ sales volumes versus fuel products bought from Petron.
All respondents were later subjected to surveillance, which proved deliveries from sources other than Petron were made.
Laboratory tests conducted on the seized fuels also confirmed they do not meet Petron’s and the Department of Energy’s product specifications and standards.
“We have been investing in state-of-the-art equipment and systems to further improve our monitoring of dealers’ activities, therefore allowing us to easily detect irregularities,” Petron said.
The company also formed a special task force that regularly monitors its stations to protect against unscrupulous activities.
Dumping is a direct result of oil smuggling, which dupes consumers into buying cheaper and inferior fuel products. Smuggling also results in an uneven playing field in the oil industry as smugglers can easily peddle fuels several pesos cheaper than legitimate players.
Industry estimates showed the country loses at least P30 billion to P40 billion annually in foregone taxes because of the said illegal activity.
If found guilty, each respondent faces imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to P200,000 for violating Sections 168.2 and 168.3 of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.