MANILA – Former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, former finance secretary Cesar Purisima and executives of oil giant Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. are facing graft charges before the Ombudsman over an alleged P100-billion state revenue losses on wrongfully declared and classified petroleum products.
The complainants, former customs commissioner Napoleon Morales, former customs collector Juan Tan and Batangas-based journalist Lourdes Aclan, claim the government lost about P100 billion after the Aquino administration failed to demand tax payments from Shell.
The subject of the complaint stemmed from the smuggling issue Shell faced in 2010. Shell allegedly skipped tax payments starting 2004 after declaring import entries of unleaded gasoline as "tetrapropylene." The firm had claimed tetrapropylene is not subject to excise tax under the National Internal Revenue Code.
The classification of unleaded gasoline, Catalytic Cracked Gasoline (CCG) and Light Catalytic Cracked Gasoline (LCCG), was also changed from an "exclusively for sale" finished product to a mere "blending component."
Despite this, the Bureau of Customs still demanded P7.348 billion tax payment. Instead of complying, Shell changed the name of the declared gasoline shipment from "CCG" and "LCCG" to "Alkylate," which was classified as non-taxable waste material. Prior this, Shell paid taxes for CCG and LCCG in 2001 to 2004.
The complainants said the P7.348-billion worth of taxes supposedly collected from CCG and LCCG, and P1.9 billion from Alkylate shipments has ballooned to over P100 billion in six years.
They added, Aquino and Purisima snubbed Aclan's letter which called on the administration's attention over the uncollected taxes.
"Kung isasama ang interest, surcharge at 800% penalty, lahat yan aabot ng P100 billion 'yan," said Tan. (If we will include the interest, surcharges and 800% penalty, it will reach P100 billion.)
"Pera ng gobyerno 'yan. For more than six years ang pera nasa Shell, ginagamit ng Shell." (That’s the government’s money.
For more than 6 years the money is with Shell.) Aquino, Purisima and Shell executives Edgar Chua, Robert Kanapi, and Nigel Avila have yet to comment on the complaint.
They are complained of violating the "Tariff and Customs Code" and the "Doctrine of Command Responsibility in all Government Offices." Shell has a pending case filed before the Court of Tax Appeals. In the petition, the company asked the tax court to stop the tax collection from previous importations.