Employees back Petron refinery re-classification for Bataan freeport

Published December 13, 2020, 6:30 AM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The employees of Petron Corporation are pleading for support from the local government of Limay, Bataan so they can save their jobs; and they are likewise pushing for the re-classification of the 180,000 barrels-per-day refinery to become part of the Freeport Area of Bataan (FAB).

The latest plan is for the management of Petron to push for the closure of the refinery January next year, but the employees to be affected by that business decision are exerting last-ditch efforts to prevent the cessation of operations of the Limay refining facility.

Photo credit: https://www.petron.com/

As noted by Thorn de Villa, a shift supervisor at the Petron refinery, “if the local government of Limay and the management of Petron will work together, they may still find a way to save the refinery.”

One remedy that has been proposed is for the refinery to be placed under the jurisdiction of FAB – a possible viable option if the proposed rationalization of taxes for refiners could not be sorted through Congress.

“We are supporting Petron on its bid to have the refinery placed under the freeport zone, and we are hoping that the municipal government can help us on this,” De Villa said.

He emphasized that at present, “the company has been pursuing several measures to improve the financial condition of Petron, but these may not still be enough. With the help of the local government of Limay, we are hoping that our concerns will be raised to the national government.”

De Villa noted the refinery employees are taking a united stand in seeking the help of the Limay local government; primarily in averting the impending closure of the refinery – because it’s not only them who will suffer, but also their families and this will come as extremely distressing development especially at the height of battling a nagging pandemic.

The employees sounded off that if the refinery will be re-classified as economic zone locator, that move “will partially address some of the company’s major woes,” including the inequitable tax payment regime cast for an oil refinery operator in the country.

Petron President Ramon S. Ang previously raised the company’s grumble over tax enforcements wherein the refiner ends up paying much higher taxes compared to its competitor-oil importers.

He noted that the lag in refining process — which may take up to two months — could result in massive inventory losses and could consequently squeeze the refiner’s margin.

Ang sounded off plans to close the refinery several months back, but he said, the oil firm will continue to judiciously weigh alternatives given that it will have more than a thousand employees that could be terribly affected with the refinery’s permanent shutdown.