BOC intercepts unmarked fuel shipment in Batangas private port
MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Corrections (BOC) on Tuesday intercepted an unmarked fuel shipment, suspected of being smuggled, in a private port in Batangas province.
The fuel was in the crude oil tanker MT Harmony Star, according to a BOC statement.
The Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) tipped off the BOC field office in the Port of Batangas about the possible presence of the tanker.
BOC operatives found the tanker in a private port Barangay Mainaga in Mabini town in Batangas.
There they found two parked fuel trucks loading fuel from the vessel that was about 30 meters away from the shoreline.
In an initial test of the fuel in one truck, the BOC found a 0.02 % trace of a fuel marker, an inert chemical added to the fuel to guarantee that duties and taxes on it has been paid and that it has not been adulterated.
According to the BOC, the low marker level confirmed that the fuel in that truck did not pass through the proper importation procedure.
The BOC operatives approached a representative of the vessel, who was inside a white, tinted, and bulletproof car, according to CIIS Director Jeoffrey Tacio.
When the representative did not respond, the team called for backup, composed of officers from the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Field testing was then done on the trucks and the tanker.
The BOC said only one truck showed the absence of the required fuel marker. The results of the tests on other samples taken from the vessel are still pending.
Meanwhile, the BOC put the fuel shipment on hold.
Just a day before, the BOC and PCG in Palawan intercepted 847,395 liters of diesel from the MT Braleman 1, which was anchored one nautical mile west off Barangay Caruray in San Vicente, Palawan.
“The agency is no stranger to any attempts by big or small companies to bring in smuggled fuel into the country. Our campaign against the smuggling of fuel has been ongoing despite the spotlight being shown more on what we do regarding agricultural smuggling,” Tacio said.
BOC Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz lamented how fuel smuggling continued to hound the country.
“The reports that our intelligence officers generate show the magnitude of how these smuggling operations affect our markets and our people. They are not slowing down, but neither are we. This is a long and uphill battle, but the agency and our people are well-prepared to finish these activities off,” he said.
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