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MANILA, Philippines -- The son of a vice mayor in Bulacan and a retired police chief inspector are behind a large criminal enterprise engaged in the widespread short-filling of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders in Metro Manila and Central Luzon, a member of Congress said in a news release Sunday.
“The syndicate has been snatching the cylinders of legitimate LPG traders from the open market, and then fraudulently short-filling and reselling the tanks,” said Rep. Arnel Ty, who represents the sectoral party LPG Marketers’ Association (LPG-MA) in Congress.
“We are also looking into reports linking the gang to the hijacking of fuel tanker trucks in Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan and Laguna,” said Ty, a member of the House committee on public order and safety.
The National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) has already identified the vice mayor’s son and the retired officer, according to Ty, also a member of the House committee on energy.
He said the syndicate runs several shady LPG refilling stations in Metro Manila, Bulacan, and as far as Bataan.
“The rampant short-filling of LPG cylinders is a nefarious trade, especially because it tends to victimize disadvantaged households that buy LPG by the kilo,” Ty said.
“Hard-up consumers who cannot afford to buy an entire 11-kilogram cylinder, are the ones usually being cheated by the syndicate,” he added.
Amid soaring fuel costs, Ty said a growing number of consumers are now buying LPG in smaller volumes, and the syndicate now appears to be raking it in.
Meanwhile, Ty’s chief of staff, lawyer Miguel Ponce Jr., said LPG-MA expects the CIDG’s Anti-Fraud Division to take swift and direct action against the syndicate.
“The syndicate has been identified as the ultimate source of the death threats that Congressman Ty has been receiving,” he said.
Ponce said LPG-MA and the CIDG stumbled upon the syndicate in a recent raid on an illegal refilling station in Valenzuela City.
“The House committee on public order and safety is set to investigate the syndicate’s illicit activities once Congress reconvenes. If necessary, Congressman Ty is also prepared to deliver a privileged speech on the matter,” he said.
Ty’s LPG-MA has been fighting to suppress crooked LPG trade practices, including unchecked short-filling and the proliferation of substandard and unsafe cylinders.
Ty is author of House Bill 3976, which seeks to grant regulators additional supervisory powers to ensure safe LPG consumption. The bill also proposes a Cylinder Exchange, Swapping and Rehabilitation Program for the benefit of consumers who may be in possession of dilapidated and defective tanks.