THE GOVERNMENT is set to collect P41 billion in excise taxes from Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. (PSPC), the Palace said Thursday, after the Supreme Court (SC) lifted a temporary restraining order (TRO) which had barred tax collectors from imposing charges on Shell shipments of a petroleum additive.

The excise tax collections will be tapped to boost the government’s pandemic response, Palace Spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said at a televised news briefing Thursday.

The prospective collections represent duties and fines that have accumulated after the Supreme Court barred the government from imposing taxes on the company’s shipments of alkylate, Mr. Roque said.

Nakabuti rin po siguro iyong pag-aapela nila ‘no dahil kung hindi po ako nagkakamali, P3 o 4 billion ang principal nito pero lumobo na po sa P41 billion kung isasama po ang mga penalties at interests (It’s a positive thing that Shell appealed because the original contested amount was only P3-4 billion, which has swelled to P41 billion with penalties and interest)” he said.

The SC recently lifted the TRO, which government lawyers said “caused irreparable injury to the government.”

In her dissenting and concurring opinion, Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier said PSPC had been importing alkylate for almost seven years without paying excise taxes. The company allegedly misdeclared the petroleum additive as a blending component to avoid excise duties.

The magistrate said these taxes could have augmented funding for healthcare services and “could have very well extended the lives of Filipinos afflicted by the virus.”

“Countless families from local government units could have also received additional relief or ayuda during the quarantine,” she said. “…the people therefore were deprived, and are continuously being deprived of these benefits as the imposition and collection of taxes are suspended or otherwise restrained.”

Mr. Roque has said the decision of the National Government on the recommendation of Metro Manila mayors to put Metro Manila under a hard lockdown will depend on the availability of funds to provide financial aid for residents who will be affected. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza