The Bureau of Customs (BOC) scored its first big break against oil smuggling in only six months on the Duterte watch with the seizure of two oil vessels carrying a combined 45,000 metric tons (MT) of smuggled fuel worth P700 million in the port of Limay in Bataan.
Newly appointed Deputy Customs Commissioner Edward James Dy Buco said the M/T Alpine Magnolia and the M/T Malolos, which were carrying the smuggled fuel, were also seized by the customs agents.
The two vessels have a combined estimated value of P300 million, Dy Buco said.
Dy Buco said the BOC caught its big haul when Limay Acting District Collector Julius Premediles received information from a reliable informant about the arrival of the M/T Alpine Magnolia and the possibility that the ship could be carrying smuggled fuel.
“District Collector Julius Premediles called the attention of (Customs) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon regarding the arrival of M/T Alpine Magnolia carrying huge amount of fuel products. Upon verification with the office of the DepComm for AOCG, it was noticed that the load Port Survey Report (LPSR) contained serious inconsistencies,” Dy Buco said in his report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
Dy Buco said a team from the Commissioner’s anti-smuggling task force, armed with a Letter of Authority and a Mission Order, was immediately dispatched to the area to monitor the movements of the vessel and the actions of its crewmembers.
“In the afternoon of December 15, 2016, M/T Malolos Limay was seen to have shipsided with M/T Alpine Magnolia and discharging of fuel started. This was done without lodgment or filing of entry. No duties and taxes were paid. This is pure smuggling in violation of Customs laws and regulations,” said Dy Buco, who heads the BOC’s Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group (AOCG).
He said Premediles immediately issued a Warrant of Seizure and Detention covering the two oil tankers and its contents of fuel.
“The vessels were included in the apprehension because they were obviously used in the commission of smuggling,” Dy Buco said.
The apprehended cargo was consigned to S.L. Harbor Bulk Terminal Corp., said Dy Buco, adding that the BOC is now readying charges against this Bataan-based company.
Dy Buco also reported to Dominguez that since Premediles took over, revenue collections in the port of Limay substantially improved, with the District of Limay thus far collecting about 60% of its P2.5 billion assigned target for December.
Premediles is a member of the BOC’s Committee on Revenue Enhancement (CORE).
According to Dy Buco, “Premediles was designated to Limay in the later part of October to manage the low performance of that Port. Due to efficiency and hard work, the collection of the port substantially improved and greatly helped the bureau surpass its target in November.”
The BOC recently announced that it had exceeded its collection target of P36.45 billion by 12 percent in November, as revenues already reached P40.239 billion.
This amount is 27 percent higher than actual collections of P29.061 billion in the same period last year.
“Pursuant to the instructions of the President to fight corruption and all forms of criminality, the BOC will not stop in working hard to fight corruption and smuggling, especially of significant products such as oil and agricultural goods,” Dy Buco said in his report to Dominguez.