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Blowing the lid off oil smuggling


I nearly fell off my chair at the breakfast table on Wednesday when I read that Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. practically confirmed the story on the rampant smuggling of petroleum products.

Ramon S. Ang, chair and chief executive officer of the biggest oil refiner Petron Corp., had complained that about one in every three liters of gasoline or diesel in the country is smuggled.

Shell, a Dutch company which is the second biggest fuel provider, appears to be the No. 1 smuggler of fuel products in the country, based on records at the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

The records show that Shell owes the government P7.348 billion, representing excise taxes and value added taxes.

The amount covered 63 shipments by Shell of petroleum products which the company allegedly misdeclared as catalytic cracked gasoline (CCG), which are not subject to excise taxes, according to BOC records.

Because of the misdeclaration, which many call technical smuggling, the customs bureau has demanded from Shell a total of P7.348 billion for its 63 shipments from 2004 to 2009.

Until now Shell continues to stall in the payment of what it owes the BOC.

* * *

“There are schemes where volume and value are grossly understated resulting in very small tax payments,” said Edgar Chua, country manager of Pilipinas Shell.

How ironic Chua should say that!

There’s a Filipino saying that goes “Ang isda ay nahuhuli sa bibig (A fish is caught by its mouth).”

* * *

A former chief of the Philippine Navy says that if called, he would testify for the six Navy officers and enlisted men who are charged with murdering a fellow officer aboard BRP Bacolod City in 1995.

Retired Adm. Ferdinand Golez says Ensign Philip Pestaño committed suicide.

Three of the officers are graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA); another is from the US Coast Guard Academy.

The six accused Navy personnel are detained at the Marines barracks in Fort Bonifacio.

There were 50 officers and men aboard BRP Bacolod City at that time.

“Not one of them says Pestaño was murdered,” said Golez, who retired three years ago. “Nobody can keep a secret in a small ship for long. One or two would have squealed if a murder was committed.”

One is dumbfounded why the Navy, which knows that the men are innocent, has not officially stood behind them.

* * *

A reporter of the GMA television news department has complained to this columnist of harassment from a superior.

The reporter, whose identity I’m withholding for now, says he would expose the “sins” of some of the network’s bigwigs if he is fired for no reason.

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Tags: Bureau of Customs , Ensign Philip Pestaño , GMA television , Oil Smuggling , petroleum products , Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp , Retired Adm. Ferdinand Golez , Smuggling

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