Bureau of Customs seizes P150M vessel, oil, products, equipment

August 6, 2009 9:21 am 

MANILA, Aug. 6 — The Bureau of Customs has ordered the forfeiture of diesel oil and petroleum products, an oil vessel and other equipment worth P150 million that were seized inside a fishing facility in Navotas and Malabon last year.

The Port of Manila issued the forfeiture order seizing the 1,888,298 liters of diesel oil, 119,655 liters of bio diesel, two barges, one vessel, two container tankers and two container trucks inside the BSJ Fishing and Trading, Inc. facility.

According to Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales, the move is in line with the directive of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to monitor all importations of fuel, stop smuggling of oil and ensure that proper duties and taxes are collected.

in September 2008, the joint elements of the Customs and National Bureau of Investigation conducted a raid at the firm’s dockyard in Navotas Fish Port.

Morales said the Port of Manila issued the warrant of seizure and detention against the items on the basis of a Department of Energy report that the firm violated the clean air act.

“So, whenever the Republic Act is violated, it violates the Customs Code and considered to be prohibited importation. The article is considered as contraband article.”

He added based on laboratory results, the sulfur content of the seized oil was .30 percent and failed to meet the parameters of the Clean Air Act. Under the law the allowable limit of sulfur content is .05 percent.”

But, BSJ president Lope Jimenez filed multiple criminal charges before the Malabon Prosecutors Office against the NBI and Customs for the alleged illegal raid. Heading the list in the charge sheet are Customs Intelligence and Investigations Service chief for operations Eric Albano and Irwin Buenaventura of the NBI.

Jimenez said his firm’s losses have reached P15 million as a result of the illegal and arbitrary raid, which authorities had claimed were directed against suspect oil stocks shipped from Indonesia.

BSJ legal counsels also downplayed the raiding team’s letter of authority from the Office of the Commissioner to demand proof of payment of duties and taxes on foreign articles openly offered for sale or kept in storage, or in the absence of such evidence, enter and search the warehouse. (PNA)

DCT/FGP/utb

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