PILIPINAS SHELL Petroleum Corp. (PSPC) made a first payment to the Bureau of Customs (BoC) of P1.7 billion under protest to cover disputed alkylate import taxes levied against it, the Department of Finance said.

“BoC received P1.7 billion from Shell Phils. Balance due on Jan. 10,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in a Viber message to reporters Tuesday.

The BoC had directed the company to make its first payment on the P3.49 billion in allegedly unpaid taxes by Dec. 27.

Earlier this month, PSPC agreed to pay taxes on alkylate imports shipped from 2014 to 2020, doing so under protest pending a court ruling.

Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero in a letter to PSPC President Lorelie Q. Osial said the oil company’s accreditation could be suspended if it fails to pay.

He said the potential suspension is not a threat, but a “proper recourse” that can be taken by the bureau after the Supreme Court lifted the temporary restraining order that had restricted the government from collecting the taxes.

“I am certain that the suspension of Pilipinas Shell’s import accreditation with the BoC will be reconsidered if the second installment is not received on the date indicated,” Mr. Dominguez said.

PSPC had agreed to remit the P3.49 billion, under protest, to continue importing fuel. The courts would still have to decide on whether or not alkylate is subject to excise tax, the company said.

Mr. Dominguez has said that the demand for payment “levels the playing field” with other oil companies that pay taxes on their alkylate imports. — Jenina P. Ibañez