The House Committee on Ways and Means has urged Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to issue a subpoena to compel importers to submit the necessary documents to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in a bid to expedite the agency’s investigation against companies, including oil firms that fail to pay to correct customs duties and taxes.
In a virtual hearing, presided by Nueva Ecija 1st District Rep. Estrellita Suansing, the House panel approved the motion made by Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo urging the House leadership to step in to assist the BOC in running after erring firms.
The motion was seconded by PBA partylist Rep. Jericho Nograles, and was unanimously adopted by the committee, chaired by Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda.
“Can the committee subpoena to help the BOC get the required documents from importers?,” Quimbo asked her colleagues, before the panel’s approval of her motion.
Suansing replied in the affirmative, saying that it can be done through a formal motion.
In a Viber message, Quimbo said her motion is aimed at “compelling oil importers to submit necessary documents to the BOC so investigation can proceed.”
“Examples would be documents showing purchase price oil. Based on the BOC report, they have to use the MOPS to compute duties, rather the actual purchase price.”
During the hearing, Quimbo asked the BOC to provide the volume data by type of fuel and estimated duties and taxes for 2019 to determine the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the revenues collected by the government during health crisis.
She also questioned the BOC for using the Mean Platts of Singapore or MOPS, to estimate duties rather the actual purchase price.
“MOPS is a reference price, it changes daily so I am wondering why you use the MOPS to estimate duties and taxes and not the actual cost at the point of purchase, hindi ba dapat actual cost ang gamit (the actual cost should be used instead).” she pointed out.
BOC Assistant Commissioner Vincent Philip Maronilla relayed to the panel that they are currently reviewing the agency’s use of MOPS in estimating the duties and taxes.
“It’s been an industry practice for the longest time,” he noted. “If we were able to resolve this particular issue, then there will be one-time payment for these oil companies. Rest assured that we are looking into that right now, this actual problem [has] been placed under the light again because of this particular audit we were conducting,” he said.
Upon the directive of the Salceda panel, the BOC is looking into importations made by and duties assessed on Petrotrade Philippines Inc., Mofels Food International Corp. and Chevron Philippines Inc.