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Customs seizes over 6,000 liters of unmarked fuel

PHILIPPINE STAR/ KRIZ JOHN ROSALES

THE BUREAU of Customs (BoC) confiscated 6,357 liters of unmarked fuel earlier this month on suspicion of smuggling, the Department of Finance (DoF) said Thursday.

Citing a report from the agency, the DoF said the unmarked fuel was discovered in one of the retail gas stations of Petromobil Corp. in Arayat, Pampanga during a BoC monitoring exercise.

The BoC office in Clark issued a warrant of seizure and detention after field tests to determine the presence of a marker failed to detect sufficient quantities of the dye, which is injected into tax-compliant fuel.

Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero said the bureau conducted further field testing in other Petromobil stations around the National Capital Region, as well as in Northern and Southern Luzon.

The follow-up operations discovered uncompliant stations in Angeles City, Pampanga and several others in Rizal and Bulacan, which carried fuel with marker levels of less than 20%.

“These stations, as well as the identified fuel source is subject to ongoing surveillance,” Mr. Guerrero said.

Republic Act No. 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law authorized the fuel marking program in a bid to curb smuggling after the law raised the excise tax rate on fuel products.

The DoF said Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told the anti-smuggling task force to go after ocean vessels turning off their automatic identification transponders to unload fuel undetected.

The agency has boarded 50 suspected vessels that were turning off their transponders but no violations of customs or anti-smuggling laws have been recorded so far.

The government collected P289.33 billion in duties and taxes from 29.4 billion liters of marked fuel in the first two years of the fuel marking program. — Beatrice M. Laforga

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