DOF: Top taxpayer ranking does not provide immunity
MANILA, Philippines - So what if the Dennis Ang Uy of Phoenix Petroleum, the independent oil firm the government has charged with smuggling, is the president of one of the top corporate taxpayers in the country?
This was the response of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima Phoenix Petroleum's statement when asked by reporters on May 1 to comment on the latest response of Uy and Phoenix on the smuggling case.
Purisima said that appearing in the top taxpayers list does not absolve firms from prosecution. "We want to make clear that appearance in any public ranking of the DOF (Department of Finance), such as the top taxpayers' or top importers' lists, does not guarantee immunity from prosecution, nor does it mean that any entity will not be subject to the stringent application of the law."
"We in the DOF and all government agencies are committed to strong, unbiased prosecution of all allegations of smuggling," he added. The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is an attached agency of the DOF and is responsible for curbing smuggling in the country.
The DOF and BOC accused Phoenix of failing to file proper documents for its oil imports and conspiring with BOC officials to avoid paying proper taxes.
"There is evidence that Phoenix either did not file the proper import entries or filed the same without the necessary supporting documents, on numerous instances, in addition to failure to account for their imports. Also, shipments that should have been deemed abandoned and turned over to the government were improperly released, signalling collusion with BOC personnel to subvert the Tariffs and Customs code," the BOC had said.
"In light of these issues, which have been raised in the past and further substantiated today, we are compelled to act and investigate the truth of this matter."
In a disclosure to the PSE on Tuesday, April 30, Phoenix dismissed the case against its president, Dennis Ang Uy, as "false and unsubstantiated allegations"
"These unsubstantiated charges are particularly troubling to us as Phoenix has been regularly honored as one of the Philippines' highest taxpayers by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Philippines' highest taxpayers by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) themselves," it said.
"Most recently during the celebration of the 111th anniversary of the Bureau of Customs last February 6, Phoenix was awarded by no less than the Secretary of Finance and the Commissioner of Customs as the country's Top 7 Importer after having paid P4.733 billion in taxes to the national government. This was in fact the second consecutive year we were awarded as the Top 7 Importer in the country," the disclosure read.
In a resolution on April 24, The Department of Justice (DOJ) charged Uy for alleged illegal importation of petroleum products at the Port of Davao and sub-port of Bauan, Batangas.
Uy was charged for "unlawful and fradulent" importations of gas oil, unleaded gasoline and petroleum products. The violations were said to have occurred on June-November 2010, January-March 2011 and June 2010-April 2011.
The DOJ filing reversed a November 2012 resolution that dismissed a P5 billion smuggling charge filed by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in May 2011. - Rappler.com