PILIPINAS SHELL Petroleum Corp. (PSPC) has paid in full the P3.49 billion in disputed alkylate import taxes levied against it, but under protest, the Bureau of Customs said.

Customs Assistant Commissioner Vincent Philip C. Maronilla on Monday said the Port of Batangas confirmed receipt of payment.

“I think it was settled last Friday,” he said in a Viber message.

In December, PSPC made a P1.7-billion initial payment also under protest. The Customs bureau instructed the company to pay the balance by Jan. 10.

PSPC had agreed to remit the allegedly unpaid taxes, which were levied on alkylate imports shipped from 2014 to 2016.

Alkylates are blended into gasoline to produce the desired octane characteristics for fuel sold at retail.

The company made the payments under protest pending a court ruling on the tax treatment of alkylates, in order to avert a possible suspension.

The courts would still have to decide on whether or not alkylate is subject to excise tax, the company said.

Customs C ommissioner 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. — Jenina P. Ibañez