Saturday, February 4, 2012

Entry of new players in Bohol 
Could bring down fuel prices? 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Feb. 3, 2012 (PIA) – For twice now, gatherings of key industry players and the Department of Energy to discuss the much controversial oil and fuel pricing in Bohol arrived at a similar conclusion. 

And for Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto, the rather queer circumstance only proves that Bohol leaders’ analysis has been right all the time: put up more competition and it saps monopolists wrists and play fair. 

As early as October of last year, meetings in Bohol seeking for solutions to the seemingly wayward determination of prices of fuel in Bohol boiled down to accepting more competitors. 

That early too, Bohol sent out invitations to new players to go and see the market prospect in Bohol. 

A study by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oil Industry Management Bureau has pointed out that intensive price wars were brought about by increased competition in both Metro Cebu and Davao. 

“These price wars force everyone to offer their products low and protect their market share or lose it to the new kids on the block,” an observer during the forum at the Mansion remarked. 

DOE Undersecretary Jose Layug also thinks similarly. 

According to the DOE study, lower prices in Cebu are due to 24 new players while Davao has 67. 

While oil price is deregulated, the DOE says price determination has been relinquished and is now in the hands of dealers who base their prices on prevailing market forces, Usec. Layug explained. 

But as to the case of the entry of new independent players, major dealers are said to protect their market share and struggle to put up a fairer market price. 

This situation has always been the case in most cities and provinces where independent players have joined local markets share, Layug stressed. 

Since last year where Bohol green-lighted the entry of independent players, a total of seven independent player filing stations have stood up, 5 of which are in the towns while two are located in Tagbilaran. 

Gov. Chatto however pointed out that these two, which are not even the bigger independent players, can hardly offer their prices at a lower rate and are just at par major players’ prices. 

In Cebu, major industries have reportedly picked aggressive pricing to survive the competition. 

According to the DOE again, and citing comments from Pilipinas Shell, the proliferation of oil products which have illegally entered into their territories affected their pricing. 

Moreover, selling of these by entities without the proper permits, payments of taxes and are wanting compliance with the Philippine National Standards allow them to thrive by marketing products at significantly lower prices. 

With this condition prevalent in an area, major dealers are forced to adjust prices accordingly to compete. 

In the foregoing situation, Gov. Chatto said he wants to host another meeting with Shell, Petron and Caltex along with independent players to open up the fields of competition in Bohol and finally settle the price discrepancy. 

Usec Layug, speaking for DOE also committed to bring to Bohol old and new players. (30)

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Major fuel dealer denies 
Pocketing big on profits 
Rey Anthony H. Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Feb. 3, (PIA) – A major fuel dealer here denies he is getting the fat profits most fuel consumers ascribe in the attendant disparity of oil pump prices in Bohol compared to its neighboring provinces. 

Casting off the blame, major fuel dealer Leo Lim admits, given the chance he would go independent player. 

At the forum organized by Governor Edgar Chatto to allow the Department of Energy (DOE) to elucidate on the factors affecting oil pricing and thus explain the huge fuel price disparity between Bohol and its nearby provinces, Lim, who is Chevron Caltex main distributor in Bohol says he’d rather go independent when his contract expires soon. 

As independent player, Lim said he could pump up profits of P4.00 to P5.00 compared to the P1.00-P1.50 he is currently getting as profit. 

Bemoaning how hard it has become for them distributing and selling already expensively sourced out fuel and with gas stations mushrooming everywhere, Lim, forecasted that it may not be long before gas stations start closing. 

“It’s hard operating as dealer, with the permits, electricity, operations and other attendant costs,” he shared in front of DOE Undersecretary Jose Layug Jr. and Trade and Industry Regional Director Asteria Caberte. 

A report on price monitoring by the DOE Oil Industry Management Bureau (OIMB) and furnished to the media confirmed Lim’s statements that independent players indeed get as much as P4.00 to P5.00 per liter as compared to P1.00 to P1.50 retailers are getting. 

As early as last year, Boholanos have complained over the huge disparity of fuel prices October 2011. 

An average price difference of almost P5.00 per liter has been noted in Bohol compared to its neighboring provinces like Cebu, Negros and Mindanao. 

On this, Gov. Chatto sought DOE assistance in addressing complaints of higher fuel prices. 

That time too, Capitol called for a mediation conference among local dealers, the DOE and major oil companies with distribution networks here. 

At the conference, DOE echoed inputs given by major downstream oil industry players and stressed that the nature of the deregulated framework allows dealers to determine actual selling prices depending on market forces. 

At the Mansion forum Friday, Usec. Layug also explained that international prices, depreciation of the peso and adjustments in domestic pump prices help determine national pricing trends. 

Apparently helpless in the situation, DOE said it has appealed to the oil companies to consider lowering prices. (30)

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DOE: “Pasada cards” 
used, admits glitches 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Feb 3, 2012, (PIA) – Over complaints lodged by drivers and operators against the government’s fuel subsidy “flop”, Energy undersecretary Jose Layug Jr. candidly admitted computer glitches stalled the implementation of the Pantawid Pasada. 

But he continued on, most of the cards released indeed were loaded with gas allocations, which some drivers used to gas up without telling their operators the card has been loaded. 

At the forum held at the People’s Mansion Friday, Layug, who came upon the invitation of Bohol government to meet with fuel industry players here said most of those who complained about the “cards without the promised loads” turned out to be cards swiped by other drivers. 

The young energy undersecretary said the cards’ swiping are computer recorded. 

Because of this, “We will know if the cards were loaded and used”, he explained. 

And we also found out that those who complained did not know that we have records of the swiping details when somebody used the card. 

“We know of some jeepney units having at least two drivers who take turns in operating the unit,” he said. 

As it came out, one driver used the whole value of the card and left the other driver nothing but a card without ant value then. 

The Department of Energy, who implemented the government one-time fuel subsidy of P1,050 to public transport, used a system where the usage of the fuel cards, bearing the plate number, routes, and name of the franchisee traces a trail back to the DOE. 

The trail would also record the time the cards were swiped and the gasoline refilling station’s point of sale identification number. 

Usec. Layug however said that if, indeed cards were really not loaded, the problems usually are that documentary requirements were not fully complied. 

He said an operator will have to produce the vehicle’s Official Receipt, Certificate of Registration, Certificate of Franchise and other requirements before the DOE can load the cards. 

He reminded that only those who operate legal franchises and those who were able to present proof of operational franchise and have satisfied the requirements can avail of the one-time fuel subsidy. (30)

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Bohol grabs two of ten 
governance innovations 
Rey Anthony H. Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Feb 3 (PIA) – Bohol asserts its position as one of the trailblazers when it grabbed two of the country’s ten most prestigious innovations in governance, during an awarding ceremony presided by no less than president Benigno Simeon Aquino III, January 30. 

Popularly known as the Galing Pook Awards, the pioneering recognition program for innovations and excellence in local governance started in 1993 and has been handing out recognitions for winning programs based on positive results and impact, promotion of people’s participation and empowerment, innovations, transferability and sustainability and program service deliver. 

That day, Bohol delegates briefly shared the limelight with the President at the stately Rizal Hall in Malacanang Palace with other winning delegates from Sarangani, Limasawa, Southern Leyte, Misamis Oriental, Upi Maguindanao, Zamboanga del Norte, Quezon province, Alimodian Ilo-ilo and Albay. 

Of the 137 programs battling to the country’s best ten this year, Bohol bagged two awards with Bohol “Rabies Prevention and Elimination Program” and Maribojoc Bohol’s “Local Government Unit-led Cadastral Survey.” 

Governor Edgar Chatto and Vice Governor Concepcion Lim led Bohol GP delegation composed of Provincial veterinarian Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz, Provincial Administrator Alfonso Damalerio III, Dr. Leonida Daguro, Global Alliance for Rabies Control Coordinator Dr. Mary Elizabeth Miranda, Romy Garcia, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Reymoses Cabagnot, Nurse Polizena Rances, Board Member Abeleon Damalerio, EDCOM Chief Augustus Escobia and Philippine Information Agency Center Manager in Bohol. 

On the other hand, Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr and Vice mayor Fructuoso Redula and the full Sangguniang Bayan complement claimed Maribojoc’s GP Award. 

Visayas sneaked in two more programs: Limasawa Southern Leyte’s “Poor Municipality can Eliminate Malnutrition” and Alimodian, Ilo-ilo’s “Bringing High School’s Closer to Home,” to seal four awards. 

Mindanao staked the next four slots with Sarangani Province’s Justice on Wheels, Misamis Oriental’s “Turning red to Green,” Upi Maguindanao’s “Rural Community e-Center” and Zamboanga del Norte’s “Empowering the Subanen People.” 

For Luzon, Albay wedged in “Health Strategy for MDG attainment while Real, Infanta, Gen Nakar and Panukulan in Quezon siddled in “Community-based Menta Health Management to complete the list. 

This year, of the 137 entries, Luzon put in 55 entries, Visayas had 33 and Mindanao put in 49, said Galing Pook Selection Committee Chair Rafael Coscolluela, in his introduction to the ceremonies. 

In his message, President Aquino stressed the crucial role local government units play in his Administration’s crusade towards progress. 

“You are the Administration’s partner in implementing reforms in the local levels, you act as branches of the national government in ensuring our initiatives and projects jibe and directly affects the lives of the Filipinos in a positive way,” the president said in Filipino. 

Gathering anew in this year’s Galing Pook Awards is a clear indication of a strengthening bond between local and national government. Our recognized programs today mirrors the Filipinos’ united stand to bring the Philippines to the forefronts of development where no one is left behind, the president pointed out. 

Year after year, it is noticeable that the programs from the LGUS are getting better and more relevant, he beamed. 

More that the recognition and the fiscal incentives, the creative and innovative initiatives you made in your areas are helping us in bringing forward our agenda of good governance and the basic response to the social problems such as poverty, health, peace and order, the president said. (30) 

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“Marikina strategy” eyed 
for Bohol stray dog control 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

MARIKINA CITY, Jan 31 (PIA) – Winning a national award for innovation in its rabies program is not the end of it all, says Bohol Veterinarian Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz. 

Still scouting for more ways to get the already winning Bohol program better, a core team from Bohol who are implementing the anti-rabies program here visited Marikina City, the country’s most successful rabies program implemented by a city, to learn from their experience. 

And true enough, after listening to City Veterinarian Dr. Manuel Carlos share their non-contact apprehension as a Marikina strategy for stray dog control, Dr. Lapiz openly thought it could also work here. 

In Marikina City, hailing of violators is just the beginning. And it is a crucial beginning. 

According to the city vet, getting the program on its brisk walks, seem like a walk in the park when they are empowered by a city ordinance and emboldened by strong political will of Mayor Del de Guzman and the City Legal Office. 

A local ordinance detailing the provisions of the national law allows Marikina authorities to impose a mandatory registration of pet, failure of which would entail stiff penalties. 

In such a small area, the ordinance and its compliance seemingly work well as the program which has had rougher times is now picking up speed and briskly collecting revenues for the program and the city. 

What used to be hard thing, showing proof of violations, is now easy with the new technology, Dr. Carlos explained to the Bohol team. 

Amid the complexity of presenting proof beyond reasonable doubt, Marikina City employs celphones with cameras, digicams and similar video devices to catch violators. 

We urged people to take videos or pictures of dogs in streets and then report them to us. Our deputized agents follow these dogs to their homes and they issue citation tickets to owners, explains the city vet. 

Three days after receiving the citations, if owners do not settle, we elevate the case to the City Legal Department. 

The legal department files the case at the Fiscals and we are lucky we have a judge that could cite any owner for contempt if they are remiss in their responsibilities, he shares. 

For Bohol, provincial Veterinarian Dr. Lapiz said Bohol could do an enhancement of the non-contact apprehension. 

In its rabies control program, Bohol has adopted a paralegal system that has worked, but not quite. 

While a paralegal system allows people to bring to the barangay rabies watchers or Bantay Rabies sa Barangay (BRB) violations such as unregistered, tagged but unleashed dogs, stray dogs posing danger to motorists and biting dogs, very few barangays are implementing the program to the full. 

It is the BRBs who summon violators and settle or mediate problems or facilitate mediation or agreements to rectify the problems caused by their pets. 

On such a tedious process that puts more tasks to barangay officials, the Marikina strategy can be studies, she said. 

Dr. Lapiz said studying the Marikina template could be enriching for Bohol, even if, unlike the Metro Manila city, Bohol has enough committed individuals who have shown they can be trusted to work for the program. (30)

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Legarda wants stiffer punishment 
For incriminators, intrigue-sowers 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Feb. 2, 2011 (PIA) –Not all witnesses coming out in the open have noble intentions. 

With these people clogging courts causing undue delays in trial time, lost man-hours and risking the unjust sending of innocents to jail, Senator Loren Legarda says, enough. 

Irked over the popping up of witnesses who apparently come either paid or bent on sowing intrigue, the lady Senator said she supports the passage of a measure to amend articles 363, 364 of Republic Act 3815. 

The proposed measure aims to intensify punishment for these persons who unjustly incriminate the innocent. 

She also hints, this should also work for people who are found guilty of intriguing against honor. 

“We continuously seek to protect our names, as public perception about us undeniably extends to our loved ones and our families. To extremists, a good name is regarded as more important than life itself, since the former leaves an imprint that lasts beyond the latter,” the senator said. 

She adds by saying, “Even with diligent efforts to maintain good standing and display acceptable character in our society, we still might be faced with circumstances that can inevitably place our long-safeguarded reputation to disgrace.” 

To her, the measure is not much more apt. 

Laxity and social naivety has created monsters who easily slip through justice after trampling on the innocent. 

“Whether it is the simple deed of spreading intrigues against a person, or the more serious act of implicating someone in a crime that he has not committed, incriminatory machinations blemish an individual’s character and may eventually ruin a person’s life”, she said in a press statement. 

To discourage such vicious acts and to safeguard the dignity of every citizen, incriminatory machinations are penalized under Articles 363 (Incriminating innocent person) and 364 (Intriguing against honor) of the Revised Penal Code. 

However, said law provides for penalties that fail to sufficiently compensate the resulting damage to victims and thus prevent them from attaining full justice. 

For this, Legarda registered her support to the measure filed under Senate Committee Report No. 81 or “An Act Amending Articles 363 and 364 of Act No. 3815, Otherwise Known as the Revised Penal Code.” 

This proposed legislation aims to update said legal provisions by intensifying the punishment for those proven guilty of incriminating innocent persons and those found guilty of intriguing against honor. 

It is my hope that with the positive action of the Senate on this measure, we will be able to ensure a society that fully respects the dignity of its citizens, Legarda said. (30)

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