THE legality of the Bureau of Customs’ (BoC) recent seizure and forfeiture of a P1 billion worth MT Alpine vessel questioned by its owner before the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA).
The Seaworld Management and Trading Inc. (SMTI) filed a petition for review and appealed to the CTA to release the vessel.
The case stemmed from BoC-Port of Limay’s seizure of MT Alpine for unlawful discharge and transfer of fuel oil to MT Malolos without paying taxes.
But the BoC stood its ground saying that the seizure and forfeiture of the vessel in favor of the government has legal basis under the Customs Moderization and Tariff Modernization Act (CMTA) off 2016 and other existing laws.
“The non-payment of duties and taxes on the subject shipment which was discharged via loop loading from their vessel to MT Malolos qualifies the importation as contrary to law thus subject to seizure and forfeiture,” Port of Lima Collector Julius Premediles said.
He stressed that SMTI should have exhausted all administrative remedies before bringing the case to the CTA.
The vessel was forfeited in favor of the state in accordance with Section 1113 (a) of the CMTA and other customs laws, rules, and regulations.
Last month, customs intelligence operatives also seized four vessels believed to have entered the country illegally or without paying the corresponding duties and taxes to the government.
According to Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, the alleged smuggled foreign vessels were also being used in the illegal quarrying of magnetic black sand along the Cagayan River.
Faeldon said the owners of the vessels had failed to present documents that duties and taxes had been paid on the shipments.
The customs chief ordered the operation following intelligence reports that the foreign vessels have allegedly been operating in Aparri, a first class riverside municipality in Cagayan province.
The first vessel, the MV Nova 1, was located at the Parradun Sur Quarry site in Aparri, while the three other vessels, MV Vela 1, MV Vela 3 and Monte Cristo II, were found at the Hua Xia/Pine Sand compound in Barangay (village) Tallungan, also in Aparri.