Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Tax-free oil squirreled away from Subic, Clark

Customs agents discovered Thursday that tax-and-duty-free fuel products were being sold at a gasoline station in Lubao town of Pampanga, outside the Subic and Clark free ports.

Customs agents recovered 2,000 liters of diesel, retailed at P22.99 per liter, from the JLV gasoline station owned by a certain Julius Vitug.

Rolando de la Cruz of the Custom Intelligence and Investigation Service said that the diesel sold by JLV station had “markings” used only for tax-free fuel products.

Tax and duty-free fuel products, which should only be sold inside free port and economic zones like Subic and Clark, contain additives that turn pinkish when mixed with a special solution, De la Cruz said.

The markings in the diesel fuel found in the station were confirmed by the Societe Generale de Surveillance, the company hired by the government to mix the fuel marking to distinguish tax-and-duty-free fuel from ordinary fuel.

These markings are mixed with gasoline or diesel at the point of discharge, De la Cruz said.

De la Cruz said JLV gasoline station had been under surveillance for several weeks after the Customs received tips from an informant.

Other products of the subject gasoline station though did not have the fuel markings.

The owner was on site during the raid but refused to issue statement without his lawyer.

Customs officials cannot readily issue an estimate of the value of the confiscated fuel from the gasoline station. But Commissioner Napoleon Morales said the fuel found with markings will be confiscated by the government.

Morales urged the owner of JLV gasoline station to identify the source of the fuel products. “The owner may have been a buyer in good faith and so we are asking their support to help us pin down the big fish behind the smuggling of these petroleum products,” Morales said. By Albert B. Lacanlale - Manila Standard today

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