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The Batangas Bull

  • Written by Dennis F. Fetalino
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 146

Ped Xing

A low degree (was) is a license to steal.

                                      --- The Counsel

Something’s percolating in Batangas, and it does not smell anywhere near coffee.

In fact, the situation could turn incendiary if allowed to get out of hand.

Here’s a thought: just because you’re the biggest frog in the pond, doesn’t mean you can’t be bullied by somebody of smaller size.

For years now, the province has become the kettle of a boiling issue involving an alleged P5.7 billion excise tax deficiency of the oil refinery plant of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. in the province.

Apart from this, two former Batangas-based tax collecting agents and a local media person seem to bully the company by suing the former highest officials of the land, and PSPC, at the Ombudsman alleging the failure of government to impose and collect the said tax.
PSPC’s travails began in 2004 and stemmed from the insistence of the Bureau of Customs at the Port of Batangas to impose and collect excise taxes, apart from the mandatory tariff duties customarily paid for by PSPC, against the company’s importation of catalytic cracked gasoline and light catalytic cracked gasoline used as intermediaries or components of its petroleum products to comply with the fuel quality standards set forth by the Clean Air Act, and the Philippine Standards Act.
Records showed the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Department of Energy have since held through several rulings and certification, respectively, and ordered the BoC to refrain from imposing excise taxes on CCG and LCCG upon entry because these are just mere components of final petroleum products of PSPC.
Besides, these components would be imposed the mandatory excise taxes by the BIR as soon as they are mixed with PSPC’s refined gasoline and withdrawn from its plant for sale to consumers.
And more importantly, PSPC – and all oil companies for that matter – cannot sell CCG and LCCG as finished products because the DOE won’t allow them to shortchange consumers and violate the laws on fuel quality.
In short, despite the order of the BIR the BoC insisted to impose and collect two rounds of excise taxes on PSPC’s imports.
This act is an utter disregard of the prohibition and rulings against double taxation, which somehow assumed a semblance of “legality” when the BIR in December 2009 and under highly suspicious move reversed all its earlier rulings exempting CCG and LCCG from excise taxes upon entry at the ports.
At the time, the BIR and BOC remained indifferent when Congress, particularly the House Committee on Ways and Means, lambasted them for imposing double taxation and usurping the power of Congress to tax.
Legal experts privy to the details of the issue laugh at the case filed before the Ombudsman because it was clear that the BOC since the start of the controversy issued a tax assessment and demanded payment from PSPC. This led the company to seek redress from the Court of Tax Appeals.
But the legal experts noted with amazement how the CTA recently ruled against PSPC and completely overlooked the glaring issue on double taxation.
And worse, the CTA made the second excise taxes liability of PSPC retroactive from 2006-2009 despite the new BIR ruling only took effect on January 2010. The court ignored and disregarded the well-enshrined prohibition against the retroactive imposition of new tax rulings.
This controversy is bound to lead PSPC to seek justice and vindication from the Supreme Court. And while many believe the company has a solid legal ground, its name is being tarnished by deliberate efforts to paint it as a cheater.
It seems like even a big and respectable company like PSPC can be a victim of bullying.
Behold God’s glory and seek His mercy!
Pause and pray, people.