Aquino, Purisima in P100-B graft, smuggling case filed with Ombudsman

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  • Former President Benigno S. Aquino III and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima are facing P100-billion graft and smuggling charges before the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) for allegedly allowing for years Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation (PSPC) to bring in unleaded gasoline without payment of excise and value-added taxes.

    The complainants said Shell falsely declared its gasoline importations as catalytic cracked gasoline (CCG), light catalytic cracked gasoline (LCCG), and  later as “alkylate,” a chemical blending component in the manufacture of gasoline which is not subject to internal revenue taxes.

    The taxes are collected by the Bureau of Customs for the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

    The 15-page complaint was filed jointly by former Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales, former Batangas Customs Collector Juan Tan, and Lourdes Aclan, publisher of Headlines News Today and national executive secretary of the Publishers Association of the Philippines.

    They said Shell reclassified CCG and LCCG as “alkylate” when then Batangas customs collector Tan demanded payment of P7.3 billion in excise taxes for imports of CCG and LCCG for the years 2004 to 2009, which demand was approved by Morales.

    Also included in the complaint are Shell Chairman Edgar Chua and several other unidentified executives of the oil company.

    Aclan said that as investigative reporter she brought the case separately to then President Aquino and Purisima, but both did nothing to compel Shell to settle the back accounts which now total more than P100 billion, including interests and surcharges.

    As the proper government officials, Morales said Aquino and Purisima should have demanded from Shell the payment of the taxes, or caused seizure of the oil products if the demand is ignored.

    Morales noted that the smuggling case filed in 2011 against PSPC under the customs bureau Run-After-the-Smugglers (RATS) campaign before the Department of Justice for misdeclaration of unleaded gasoline has not yet been resolved.

    According to Morales, when Shell elevated the case to the Court of Tax Appeals en banc, the latter decided in favor of the government. (J. Ramirez, MB)

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