Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said the BOC Port of Clark has issued a Warrant of Seizure and Detention against the owner of Petromobil gas station in Arayat, Pampanga for being found to have 6,357 liters of unmarked diesel by a field testing operation conducted by the BOC and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on September 3.
In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Guerrero said another Petromobil retail station in Angeles City in Pampanga was ordered closed during the follow-up field testing while other stations of the oil company in Rizal and Bulacan were also found with deficient fuel marker levels of 20 percent and below.
“These stations, as well as the identified fuel source, is subject to ongoing surveillance operations,” Guerrero said during a recent Department of Finance (DOF) executive committee meeting.
Guerrero said the BOC has teamed up with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to mobilize a Department of Energy (DOE)-led task force against petroleum smuggling done within the country’s territorial waters.
The DOE-led Interagency Task Force on Energy (IATFE) intends to include the Philippine Navy (PN) and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) in the group so that it would become the “umbrella” organization to combat petroleum smuggling, Guerrero said.
Guerrero said the BOC has been coordinating with the member agencies of the IATFE to comply with Dominguez’s instructions on going after sea vessels turning off their automatic identification system (AIS) transponders to avoid detection, and also those directly unloading fuel in lorries.
“On the part of the BOC, we’re making use of our Command Center at the Customs Operations Center to conduct surveillance on vessels of interest (VOIs) and we are providing periodic reports to your office,” Guerrero informed Dominguez during the Execom meeting.
Guerrero said the BOC’s Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) has boarded 50 vessels as of Sept. 10, including those VOIs that have been irregularly transmitting their positions because their AIS were switched off at certain times.
No violations of customs or anti-smuggling laws by these VOIs were found so far, but they were warned that subsequent instances of irregular transmissions will be dealt with more severely in the future, Guerrero said.