THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) is running after the contractor of the Philippine Arena, the world’s largest indoor arena owned by the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC or Church of Christ), for failure to settle its tax obligations on construction materials that it imported from abroad.
The BoC’s Legal Service on Wednesday disclosed that it already transmitted a copy of the formal complaint against New San Jose Builders Company (San Jose) to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), the government’s law officer and defender.
Republic Act (RA) 9593, or the Tourism Act of 2009, ensures privileges to companies within the Tourism Enterprise Zone.
Section 86 of RA 9593 provides that “subject to rules and regulations which properly define capital investments and equipment necessary for various kinds of tourism enterprises, registered enterprises shall be entitled to an exemption of 100 percent from all taxes and customs duties on importations of capital equipment.”
San Jose availed itself of the privilege when it imported construction items from 2012 to 2103 to build the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, north of Manila.
The developer was required to post bonds to cover duties and taxes for its shipments since it did not have certificates of exemption from the Department of Finance (DoF).
It posted bonds amounting to P947, 292, 025.72 issued by Centennial Guarantee Assurance Corp. (CGAC), Intra Strata Assurance Corp. (ISAC) and Philippine Fire and Marine Insurance Corp. (PFMIC), the three surety companies mentioned in the complaint.
Since the Finance department did not grant the exemption, San Jose was required to pay duties and taxes due on their importations.
Demand letters were sent by the District Collector of the Port of Manila (PoM) to San Jose, CGAC, ISAC and PFMIC in 2015.
On July 28, 2015, the District Collector sent a final demand letter to the surety companies.
On December 1, 2015, the acting chief of the PoM’s Bonds Division recommended the forfeiture of the bonds for failure of San Jose and the surety companies to settle their obligations, despite the BoC’s repeated demands.
The PoM’s Law Division recommended forfeiture of the matured bonds in a memorandum dated September 20, 2016.
The recommendation was forwarded by the division’s officer-in-harge to Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon for approval.
Section 1132 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act provides civil remedies to the BoC for the collection of duties and taxes.
Among these remedies are the distraint of goods and other personal property such as stocks and other securities and the filing of civil or criminal suits against violators. WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL