THE chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means on Monday called on the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to further intensify its anti-smuggling efforts to help the government reduce foregone revenues from the proposed 6-month fuel excise tax suspension.
During the briefing on the collection of oil taxes, fuel marking program enforcement activities and oil importation, Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda cited the BOC for complying with the committee’s requests to intensify the fight against smuggling in petroleum products.
“I am thankful [to] the Bureau of Customs for complying with this committee’s request to strengthen the country’s anti-smuggling efforts on petroleum. I noted earlier this year that the gap between exports to the country and imports of the country is narrowing, a sign that smuggling efforts are getting more effective. I urge the BOC to go harder at smuggling as oil price increases,” Salceda said.
Salceda said BOC’s strong anti-smuggling measures will help reduce foregone revenues from the proposed fuel excise tax suspension under House Bill 10488.
Under the bill, now ready for plenary deliberations, excise taxes on low-octane gasoline, used primarily by tricycle drivers, will also be reduced to P4.35 from the current P7, while taxes on premium gasoline will be retained at P10.
This proposal will cost the government around P45 billion.
In the same briefing BOC Deputy Commissioner Teddy Raval told lawmakers that the bureau has entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for data sharing. This MOA allows the three agencies more access to information, such as notifications submitted by oil companies, as well as the amount and quality of fuel intended to be imported.
Also, the BOC official said the bureau also signed a MOA with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Joint Maritime Patrols using the active vessels of the PCG, procuring 20 Patrol Boats for exclusive BOC Maritime Patrol.
Salceda, for his part, said, “most of the smuggling likely happens in private ports. So, it is crucial that we work with the PCG. I also laud strengthening the BOC Maritime Patrol.”
“Moving forward, I would like the BOC to organize the Task Force Anti-Oil Smuggling that we requested the BOC to organize in February this year,” he added.
Meanwhile, Raval told lawmakers the BOC was able to mark 31.846 billion liters of fuel, which resulted in an increase in excise tax collection of P312.4 billion from September 2019 to November 5, 2021.
Currently, Raval said the BOC has 20 unit mobile laboratories to conduct field testing activities to 8,605 total retail stations nationwide.
In February and May, he reported that the BOC has seized 79,740.80 liters of diesel, 2,016 of kerosene and two units of tank trucks with an estimated value of P11.3 million.
On September 3, 2021, the BOC and BIR also seized 6,357 liters of unmarked diesel found in a Petromobil retail station in Arayat, Pampanga during its field testing operation.
The markers serve as identifiers during field testing to determine the presence of illicit fuel in the market. The Fuel Marking Program aims to raise revenues while curbing fuel smuggling and leveling the Philippine oil industry’s playing field.