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2 Customs collectors sacked over alleged fuel smuggling

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MARIVELES, Bataan — Bureau of Customs (BoC) Commissioner Leonardo Guerrero the other day sacked the District Collectors of the Port of Limay and the sub-port in this industrial town after a group of concerned citizens wrote President Rodrigo Duterte about the alleged large scale of fuel smuggling amounting to billions of pesos in the coastal towns of Bataan.

Guerrero wielded the axe on Guillermo Pedro Francia, a long-time district collector Limay port and Tomas Tagra Jr., of the sub-port of Mariveles following reports of fuel smuggling happening in their jurisdictions.

The BoC chief designated Gregorio Tomagan, Jr. and Atty. William Balayo, respectively, as their replacements.

In their letter dated 3 February sent to the Office of the President, the group claimed that the “fuel smuggling operation will severely affect the legitimate and law-abiding players in the fuel industry and deprive the government of billions of pesos in tax losses if left unchecked.”

The group further stated that the purported fuel smuggling under the very noses of the Customs officials had also resulted to the dramatic drop in the prices of diesel in many parts of Bataan, Bulacan and Cavite.

A source who asked not to be identified inside the BoC said that seven tankers (cargo ships) were involved the in the fuel smuggling and the illegal operation was started during the fourt quarter of 2020 and continued until last month.

The complainants likewise told the President that the fuel has not gone through the usual dye-treatment process and does not contain the coco methyl ester as mandated by law.

Francia and Tagra were put on Customs monitoring unit under floating status while their cases are being investigated.

Some personnel of BoC personnel have also called for the two sacked collectors to be subjected to a lifestyle checks as they are allegedly owners of “multi-million houses and hi-end cars.”

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