THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) said it expects full coverage nationwide for the fuel marking system within four months of the trial period beginning in February.

In a statement Friday, the BoC said it will begin field testing alongside the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Feb. 3 for all domestically-sold gasoline, diesel and kerosene products, including those in storage.

Any fuel found unmarked with a special dye, adulterated or diluted, will expose the fuel sellers to penalties, it said.

Fuel marking is an anti-smuggling measure meant to signify that fuel is tax-compliant at the various stages of importation or production. The absence of the special marker dye, as determined by field inspectors, is deemed prima facie evidence of smuggling or tax evasion.

BoC has reported that over 71 million liters of fuel was marked at the Seaoil Bulk Terminal in Mabini, Batangas where the first marking exercise was conducted. Meanwhile, other marking activities are also expected to begin this month at the terminals of Pure Petroleum Corp., Phoenix Petroleum Corp., Unioil Petroleum Philippines and the entire network of Chevron Philippines, Inc.

The BIR is in charge of collecting excise on domestically-refined petroleum products, while the BoC will take charge of imported fuel products.

Fuel marking was authorized by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

The Department of Finance (DoF) has estimated that the government foregoes P20-40 billion in revenue each year from fuel smuggling and misdeclared import values. The DoF said the marking scheme will help curb smugglling, thereby increasing government revenue.

“The implementation of the Fuel Marking Program is a milestone for the Bureau of Customs as well as the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Department of Finance, as we have painstakingly worked together ensure the success of the Program. With the cooperation and support of partner agencies and stakeholders, we are ready to implement the Fuel Marking program and make it work,” Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero was quoted as saying. — Beatrice M. Laforga