The Bureau of Customs filed smuggling charges today against an officer of an oil importing company whose modus operandi was detected based on information provided by one of the agency’s accredited international bulk and break-bulk cargo surveyors.
Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez identified the respondent as Rosario Tolentino Mamaril, Reports and Compliance Officer of Filpride Resources Incorporated (FILPRIDE) with business address at 57 Westgate Office, Sampson Road, Central Business District, Subic Freeport Zone, Olongapo City. Also included in the charge sheet are several JOHN DOE/S and JANE DOE/S, among them customs employees who allowed Filpride to evade payment of the correct Value Added Tax.
Filpride entered the petroleum industry in 1985 . It is one of the leading distributors/suppliers of fuel & lubricating oil to a number of industries. It is also included in the top 1000 Corporations of the country.
Alvarez said that based on documents provided by SGS, Filpride imported on November 11, 2010 a total of 102,416 barrels of crude oil from Thailand with a dutiable value of P408,885,827.
However, verifications conducted by the agency’s Run After the Smugglers (RATS) Group revealed that Filpride declared an importation of only 80,300 barrels of crude oil for which it paid value added tax amounting to P76,006,921.
Customs Deputy Commissioner Gregorio Chavez, concurrently the Executive Director of the RATS Group, claimed that Filpride did not declare some 22,500 barrels of crude oil with a dutiable value of P57,228,111.
The under-declaration resulted in the non-payment of value added tax totaling P6,915,755.
For violating the terms of its customs accreditation privileges, Chavez said Filpride should not only be asked to pay the unpaid value added tax of P6,915,755. It should also be made to pay P408,855,827 which corresponds with the total dutiable value of the entire shipment as the latter should have been forfeited in favor of the government.
Alvarez disclosed that the irregularity in Filpride’s importation was uncovered when the RATS Team got hold of an SGS report attesting that Filpride’s shipment was divided into five (5) parcels declared in five (5) separate bills of lading which did not tally with the four (4) import entries filed by the company with the BOC.
He added: “Filpride’s modus operandi was to break their shipment into five parcels covered by different bills of lading but pay value added tax only on the four parcels.”
The manipulation would come in the form of spurious documents that showed Filpride only imported parcels A to D. Obviously, the company did not declare parcel E (which was reflected in the SGS report) to evade payment of the correct VAT.
The customs chief advised those engaged in the importation of non-containerized cargoes like petroleum products not to commit the same mistake because the BOC has engaged the services of 6 international cargo surveyors “whose job is to determine the correct dutiable weight, quantity, description in tariff terms and cargo make or quality of all bulk and break-bulk shipments bound for the Philippines. The survey is conducted by the accredited surveyor at the loading port, the results of which are submitted to the BOC in a secured format.
According to Alvarez, Filpride’s scheme of deception involved partial unloading of its oil shipments in different ports, in this case, the Port of Subic and then the Port of Cebu to confuse customs appraisers and examiners.
“But as proven by this case we filed today, the BOC has complementary programs in place backed up by a streamlined document trail to make smugglers pay a heavy price for their illegal activities,” he added.
Alvarez also emphasized that as far as the new leadership of the BOC was concerned, no crime against government coffers, no matter how long ago it was committed, could go unpunished.
Alvarez instructed Chavez to look into all the previous importations of Filpride to see if the same pattern was used and still being used by them.
He also instructed Chavez to file as soon as possible an amended charge sheet that would now include the names of customs employees in cahoots with oil smugglers.