MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) upheld the decisions of the Court of Appeals (CA) in Manila and in Cagayan de Oro to dismiss the P5.9-billion smuggling case filed against businessman Dennis Uy.
In a 36-page ruling by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the High Court denied the consolidated petitions filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
The decision affirmed there was no proof that Uy, as president and chief executive officer of Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, and customs broker Jorlan Cabanes participated in the alleged fraudulent importation of petroleum products at the Davao and Batangas ports from 2010 to 2011.
“There was no proof that he willfully and deliberately acted to defraud the government to complete the importation,” the SC said in a decision issued on July 14, but only made public on Saturday, December 11.
“Thus, absent proof that respondent Uy himself committed the acts, he cannot be charged for fraudulent practices. On this basis alone, the criminal charges against respondent Uy must fail.”
Phoenix Petroleum imports refined petroleum products from other Asian countries such as Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand.
The High Court said that based on evidence, all taxes and duties due had already been paid through the BOC’s E2M Customs System.
“This is proof that Phoenix complied and filed all the necessary import documents,” the SC said.
In 2011, the BOC filed a complaint against Uy, Cabanes, and others for alleged violation of the Tariff and Customs Code. The bureau accused Phoenix of fraudulently importing petroleum products worth P5.99 billion.
In 2012, a panel of prosecutors recommended the dismissal of the complaint. But then-DOJ secretary Leila de Lima reversed the panel’s resolution and ordered the filing of criminal charges against Uy and Cabanes.
The CA in Manila ruled that there was no evidence of fraud. (READ: Biz groups slam CA in smuggling case)
The Davao City Regional Trial Court, meanwhile, dismissed all charges against Uy, which prompted the prosecution to file a petition before the CA in Cagayan de Oro in a bid to overturn the Davao court ruling. The CA in Cagayan de Oro denied the petition.
“In sum, the lower courts’ finding of no probable cause is supported by relevant laws and evidence on record. Mindful of these considerations, the Court of Appeals’ affirmation of the dismissal of the charges is not tainted with grave abuse of discretion,” Leonen’s decision read. – Rappler.com