CEBU CITY – The Philippine Eco-Gas Producers Cooperative (PEPC) on Tuesday advised Cebuanos not to patronize illegally sold butane canisters carrying their brand but are not registered with the Department of Energy (DOE) and Bureau of Product Services (BPS).
Lawyer Vincent Roel Tabuñag, PEPC’s legal counsel, said the group will continue to seek legal action against individuals or groups who are refilling their canisters as these are registered as a brand before the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOP).
He said that PEPC and another brand, Tripler, owned by Vindosa Corporation, will continue reporting to authorities those individuals and groups involved in illegally trading their canisters, “as a matter of protection to their brand name against unsafe refilling, transport, handling, trading and utilization”.
His statement came after a team of agents from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Region 7 (Central Visayas) raided three butane refilling plants illegally operating in Barangays Cansojong, Tabunok, and Jaclupan in Talisay City on Tuesday (Dec. 1) last week.
Agapito Gierran, raiding team leader, said in the affidavit of arrest filed before the Talisay City Prosecutors Office, that the lawyer of PEPC and Vindosa reported to NBI-7 about the “illegal trading of butane canisters that relentlessly, surreptitiously operating backyard refilling activities” in Cansojong, a village in Talisay City.
Gierran said after receiving a letter from Tabuñag, they conducted surveillance operations in an establishment bearing the signage “Jane Gas”. After confirming the illegal operations, they raided the establishment.
The NBI-7 filed two cases against nine people, including the operator identified as Jane Reales, her operations manager, Barry Ronolo, office secretary Jenelyn Amparado, cashier Marian Joy Demotor, audit staff Edelbert Banquil, warehouse checker Christian Butang, and warehouse man Jonreyl Ronato.
The cases filed before the Talisay Prosecutor’s Office against the nine suspects were trademark infringement and unfair competition under Republic Act 8293, the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, as amended by RA 10372, and violation of Batas Pambansa 33, as amended by P.D. 1865, for illegal refilling the canisters owned by the cooperative and the company.
“Our primary goal is to protect PEPC and Tripler’s brand name. The NBI-7 just discovered they were illegally refilling our canisters,” Tabuñag said in a phone interview.
After raiding the refilling plant in Barangay Cansojong, the NBI agents proceeded to Jaclupan and Tabunok to raid two other backyard refilling plants in these villages but the operators and workers allegedly eluded arrest. The three refilling plants have no standard compliance certificate (SCC) from the DOE.
Seized in the Cansojong raid were numerous PEPC and Tripler canisters refilled with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), 10,000 pieces of PEPC seal or label stickers, several plastic crates, 120 cylinders of different LPG brands, order and purchase order slips, books of accounts, weighing scale, 5.5 horsepower air compressor, and L300 delivery vehicle.
“Due to the limited space in the office as well as those LPG tank and butane canisters were hazardous in nature, they were temporarily turned over to the Department of Energy (DOE),” Gierran said.
The joint brand protection unit of PEPC and Vindosa certified that the PEPC canisters are underweight and sticker seals seized during the raid were not officially printed by the cooperative and the company.
Engr. Jose Rey Maleza, DOE-Visayas’ Energy Industry Management Division chief, on Tuesday urged consumers to patronize butane dealers and retailers who have duly complied with the DOE’s standard compliance certificate and have obtained business permit from the local government units and fire safety inspection certificate from the Bureau of Fire. (PNA)