Stop ‘bote-bote’

Al-ag: gas station operators seek end to illegal peddling
A CITY COUNCILOR seeks to end “bote-bote,” the selling of illegally refilled fuels in bottles along the city’s major highways and far-flung barangays, as industry players are asking the local government to help curb the problem.

“Bote-bote” hawks liquid petroleum products in bottles to motorists, usually public utility vehicles drivers, for a price much lower compared than in gasoline stations.

Councilor Bernard Al-ag, in a privilege speech, said that a group of around 40 gasoline station operators are asking the city government to make an ordinance prohibiting the illegal practice.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has repeatedly asked local government units, including Davao City, to create such measure as the practice is not only illegal but is also hazardous.

“Road side peddling, or commonly called “bote-bote,” has been observed in various parts of the city. They have been in operation for quite some time already exposing the public and the seller themselves to risks that threaten lives and property because they do not practice safety measures,” Al-ag said.

“First, the products they are selling run the risk of not complying with the Philippine National Standards (PNS) on liquid petroleum product quality as we are not certain if their sources run quality control,” Al-ag said.

The councilor said the peddlers also deprive the government the taxes, which should have been used for public projects and initiatives.

Further, Al-ag said, “We don’t want to wait for an accident to happen before we do something about it.”

The councilor explained that “bote-bote” poses a serious fire hazard and endanger houses and establishments in the vicinity where the products are being sold.

The item was passed on first reading during Tuesday’s regular session.

In September, the DOE said the “bote-bote” practice has indirectly affected prices in Mindanao to possibly illegal levels, as some oil players in Mindanao made a steep fall of prices up to P3.00.

The DOE said that the effect of the phenomenon to the price of gasoline “may breach provisions under existing law.”

“Currently, the DOE has already been coordinating with local government units (LGUs) concerned and the Bureau of Fire to eliminate the ‘bote-bote’ and discourage consumers from patronizing such activity as this may endanger public safety and health,” the agency said.

Some of the “bote-bote” sellers get their supply from hawkers who stole fuels from parked vehicles, especially trucks, or the so-called “paihi,” the siphoning of fuel from a tank or depot.