Customs Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz on Wednesday commended his men from the Intelligence Group who intercepted a shipment of unmarked fuel at a private port in Batangas.
“The reports that our intelligence officers generate show the people. They are not slowing down, but neither are we. This is a long and uphill battle, but the agency and our people are well-prepared to finish these activities off, ” Ruiz said.
Customs intelligence operatives se ized the shipment on Feb. 7 after receiving information about the presence of unmarked fuel in the tanker VOI MT Harmony Star.
In a bid to intensify its efforts to curb fuel smuggling, the CIIS, assisted by the Philippine Coast Guard, intercepted the vessel off Barangay Mainaga in Mabini and discovered a deficient fuel marker level.
The team proceeded to an unknown private port where they found two lorries unloading fuel into a ship anchored some 30 meters from the shoreline. An initial test done on one of the lorries resulted in a .02 percentage fuel marker, an inert chemical added to fuel after the payment of duties and taxes.
The deficient fuel marker level confirmed that the oil did not pass through the proper procedure of importation.
CIIS director Jeoffrey Tacio narrated what happened during the operation.
“The agency is no stranger to any attempts by big or small companies smuggling of fuel has been ongoing despite the spotlight being shown more on what we do regarding agricultural smuggling, ” he said.
The official shared that the Customs ’ Field Station in Batangas reported that the team ’s operatives approached the representative Fortuner after the vessel ’s captain, Captain Ronnie Ungui, poi nted to the car.
However, the representative did not respond, so the team had to call for backup, composed of officers from the PCG and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Upon the arrival of SGS, field testing at the lorries and vessel was immediately conducted on board after the captain was shown a copy of the Mission Order (MO) signed by Batangas Port District Collector Ma. Rhea Gregorio on the same day the operation was done.
While one of the lorries already confirmed the absence of the required fuel marker, the results on the other samples taken from the vessel are still pending.
The fuel shipment was put on hold by Customs authorities a day after the BOC and PCG Palawan intercepted 847,395 liters of diesel fuel from MT Braleman 1 while the vessel was anchored one nautical mile west off Barangay Caruray in San Vicente, Palawan.