Naga mayor, exec face suit for ‘illegal’ business permit

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Michelle Joy L. Padayhag August 25,2014 - 08:09 AM

An officer of a gas company has filed a complaint against City of Naga Mayor Valdemar Chiong and the city administrator for issuing conditional business permits to a Malaysian-owned liquified petroleum gas (LPG) facility that lacked fire safety certification.

Darwin Sarraga, assistant vice president for corporate administrative services of Pryce Gas Inc. (PGI), asked the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas to investigate Chiong and City Administrator Arthur Villamor for allegedly giving “undue advantage” to Petronas Energy Philippines Inc.

But Mayor Valdemor Chiong denied committing any irregularity in issuing conditional business permits to the Malaysian firm, saying the city fire marshal and the Bureau of Fire Protection regional office (BFP-7) found no violation against the LPG terminal of Petronas.

Prohibited act

Sarraga’s lawyer, Julius Caesar Entise, said the respondents should be held liable for violating Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for gross negligence in the performance of duty and gross misconduct.

Under the Fire Code of the Philippines, Entise said a Fire Safety Inspection Certificate (FSIC) from the BFP is a pre-requisite before the grant of, or renewal of, business or mayor’s permit.

Entise said that the language of Section 5 of the Fire Code needs no explanation or qualification.

“When the law says ‘no’, it needs no explanation that an act is prohibited,” Entise said.

The alleged violation by Mayor Chiong and Villamor to the Fire Code, “gave unwarranted benefits, advantage, and preference to Petronas,” the complainant said.

Mayor Chiong on the other hand said that before he issued the permit, the Naga Fire Department conducted a re-inspection at the site last January 2014.

“Pag re-inspection nila wala may nakitang kalapasan sa Fire Code unya gi affirm sa Bureau of Fire and Protection (BFP-7),” Chiong explained. (When the re-inspection was done, no violation was found and this was affirmed by the BFP-7.)

The BFP has not renewed the FSIC of the Petronas facility when it expired last Dec. 31, 2013.

Reversed

Last July 15, 2014, Chief Supt. Carlito Romero, acting national director of the BFP reversed the ruling of the BFP-7 that the Petronas facility has not violated fire safety standards, particularly on safety distance requirements.

The BFP chief said that LPG containers with capacity of more than 378,500 liters should be constructed at least 91 meters from the perimeter line of the adjoining property.

An inspection done by the BFP regional office in November last year indicated the LPG tanks which has a combined capacity of 4.5 million liters are only 65 meters from the adjoining property.

Chiong said, he has yet to receive a copy of Romero’s ruling.

In a press release, PGI said it had also asked the Ombudsman to facilitate the implementation of the July 15 ruling of the BFP chief which would eventually result in, among others, the cancellation of the Petronas’ business permit and eventual closure of their LPG facility until such time they comply with safety distance requirements.

Related Stories:

Naga ready to keep gas plant open

BFP: Naga gas depot violates Fire Code

 

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TAGS: liquified petroleum gas

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