Smuggling behind fuel price spike in Sulu?

Posted at 07/13/14 3:49 PM


MANILA -- Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said the government is willing to make arrangements with oil firms to resolve the fuel supply situation in the province of Sulu.

In an interview with ANC, Petilla said the rise in gasoline prices in Sulu, which has reached P110 per liter, may have been due to smuggling,

He immediately clarified, however, that he is referring to gasoline purchased by “bote-bote” or bottles and not those coming from the tanks.

“There is suspicion, but this is not a definite statement… We got a report that Malaysia has now tightened its border up to the extent that deliveries to Sulu has been affected,” he said, adding local players have shied away from putting up business there because of the "competition from fuels with no taxes.”

But Petilla lamented that the Department of Energy can only do so much when it comes to smuggling.

“I can’t make plans regarding smuggling because that’s the job of the Bureau of Customs. Not that I’m washing my hands, but even if I wanted to, I can’t apprehend them,” he said.

The DOE can help monitor the situation, however, he offered.

In terms of supply, a local depot will have deliveries on Monday, which could help ease the situation, Petilla said.

“With the tight supply there, the [oil firms] may be encouraged to do more frequent deliveries,” he said.