The Bureau of Customs seized 6,357 liters of unmarked diesel at one of the retail stations of a petrol company in Pampanga
BOC Port of Clark issued a warrant of seizure and detention against operators of Petromobil Corp gas station in Arayat, Pampanga
A follow-up field testing at other Petromobil retail stations resulted in the closure of one station in Angeles City
Other stations in Rizal and Bulacan were found with deficient fuel marker levels of 20% and below
- Random field and confirmatory testings are part of the government’s fuel marking program under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) recently seized 6,357 liters of unmarked diesel at one of the retail stations of a petroleum company in Pampanga.
BOC Port of Clark issued a warrant of seizure and detention against operators of the gas station of Petromobil Corporation in Arayat, Pampanga after a field testing operation conducted by BOC and Bureau of Internal Revenue on September 3.
“Follow-up field testing operations were conducted covering other identified Petromobil stations within the National Capital Region (NCR), Northern and Southern Luzon,” Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said in a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
As a result, Guerrero said another Petromobil retail station in Angeles City in Pampanga was ordered closed while other stations in Rizal and Bulacan were also found with deficient fuel marker levels of 20% and below.
“These stations, as well as the identified fuel source, [are] subject to ongoing surveillance operations,” Guerrero said.
Random field and confirmatory testings are part of the government’s fuel marking program under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law. The testing covers gasoline, diesel and kerosene found in warehouses, storage tanks, gas stations and other retail outlets, and in such other properties or equipment, as well as in vessels, tank trucks, and similar fuel transporting vehicles.
Petroleum products found without the official fuel marker or not containing the required level of official fuel marker will be slapped duties and taxes, inclusive of fines and penalties. They may also be confiscated and forfeited while the suspects face the possible filing of the appropriate criminal case.
Guerrero said BOC has teamed up with the Philippine Ports Authority, Maritime Industry Authority, and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to mobilize a Department of Energy-led task force against petroleum smuggling within the country’s territorial waters.
The DOE-led Interagency Task Force on Energy (IATFE) intends to include the Philippine Navy and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency in the group so it will become the umbrella organization for combating petroleum smuggling, Guerrero said.
He said BOC has been coordinating with member agencies of the IATFE to comply with Dominguez’s instructions to go after sea vessels turning off their automatic identification system (AIS) transponders to avoid detection, and also those directly unloading fuel into lorries.
“On the part of the BOC, we’re making use of our Command Center at the Customs Operations Center to conduct surveillance on vessels of interest (VOIs) and we are providing periodic reports to your office,” Guerrero said.
BOC’s Enforcement and Security Service has boarded 50 vessels as of September 10, including VOIs that have been irregularly transmitting their positions because their AIS were switched off at certain times.
No violations of customs or anti-smuggling laws by these VOIs have been found so far, but they were warned subsequent instances of irregular transmissions will be dealt with more severely in the future, Guerrero said.
In July last year, BOC and PCG signed a memorandum of agreement renewing their partnership in intelligence sharing and joint operations in boarding and inspecting VOIs in Philippine territory. The renewed partnership was amid observations that some vessels entering Philippine territorial waters suddenly change destination and unload cargo, in the process intentionally shutting down their identification system to avoid detection.