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December 22, 2014

THE DAILY TRIBUNE: MMDA should spare fuel tankers from truck ban — solon

With the Supreme Court (SC) order shutting down the Pandacan oil depot, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) should spare fuel tankers from the truck ban to expedite the delivery of vital petroleum products from Batangas and Bataan, a partylist solon said yesterday.

“The MMDA may have to exempt fuel tanker trucks from the road ban, if only to avoid supply disruptions, which may be exploited by abusive traders as an excuse to prop up pump prices, or to delay further price rollbacks,” LPG-MA Rep. Arnel Ty said.

The MMDA bans trucks from Metro roads from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every day, except Sundays and holidays.

Oil companies have been rolling back pump prices on account of the 40 percent drop in the cost of crude oil in the world markets since June.

However, Ty expressed concern that profiteers might take advantage of supply chain glitches due to the closure of the Pandacan depot as a pretext to keep pump prices elevated.

Ty was responding to the warning issued by the Department of Energy (DoE) that fuel prices may rise after Pilipinas Petroleum Corp., Petron Corp. and Chevron Corp. (formerly Caltex Philippines Inc.) wind down their Pandacan operations to comply with the SC order.

The extra cost factor will come from the “Big Three” having to obtain their bulk supplies by road using tanker trucks, instead of sea-based barges, from their oil refineries and terminals in Batangas and Bataan, according to DoE Undersecretary Zenaida Monsada.

“Prices may be affected, considering the difference in transport costs using a truck compared to a barge,” Monsada said.

Monsada added some 70 percent of petroleum products in Luzon, including Metro Manila, come from the 33-hectare Pandacan depot in Manila where the Big Three have been running storage facilities and distribution terminals.

Monsada sees one to two days of lag time in the road transfer of oil products from Batangas and Bataan. The high court finally ordered the relocation of the Pandacan depot, saying it puts Manila residents at grave risk in the event of a terrorist attack.

The Nov. 25 ruling struck down as unconstitutional Manila City Ordinance 8187 which provided for the depot’s continued operation.

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