Inquiry on oil smuggling, black market sought

Posted at 06/08/2014 4:06 PM | Updated as of 06/08/2014 4:06 PM

MANILA – The House Committee on Ways and Means is being urged to conduct an inquiry on the rampant oil smuggling and black market activity in the country.

Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon has formally filed House Resolution 1164, to check on on the problem of petroleum smuggling in the country, particularly in our seas and major ports.

The bill also seeks an inquiry on the status of technical smuggling cases "filed by different government instrumentalities against erring oil companies in the past years.”

“Issues pertaining to the oil industry have pervasive and far-reaching impacts on our nation’s economy,” Ridon stressed in a statement released on Sunday.

Ridon cited data from the Department of Energy showing that "at least 39.3 million barrels were sourced from smuggling," based on 2009 figures.

“Despite the Aquino government’s claim that 'enough measures are in place' to curb oil smuggling, major oil industry players themselves suspect a rise in petroleum smuggling starting from the third quarter of 2013 to the present,” he said.

He recalled a statement made by the Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. country chairman Edgar Chua last February, saying that the company experienced a “sharp decline in sales” during months found to have intensified oil smuggling activities.

According to a study published by the Global Financial Integrity (GFI,) smuggling is widespread in the Philippines over the past decade, where 25 percent of the value of goods imported goes unreported to custom officials.

Ridon said that since 1990, the Philippine government has lost at least $19.3 billion or over P800 billion in tax revenue due to smuggling.

“The said amount is almost equivalent to the total budget allotted for the whole social services sector (including education, health, employment, and social services) for fiscal year 2014,” he said.