By Betheena Kae Unite
The public may soon see a Skyjet aircraft being auctioned for the first time in the Bureau of Customs history if proven that its owner owed the government P90-million unpaid taxes.
A P583.53-million, 80-seater aircraft, was forfeited by the bureau after its owner, Magnum Air Inc. operating as Skyjet Airlines failed to pay the customs taxes and duties from the time of importation.
According to Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña, the aircraft was forfeited after discovering that it defrauded the government for continuously operating commercial flights from 2014 to 2017 without paying Customs taxes and duties.
The legal division of the bureau said that once the company is found to have defrauded the government, the Skyjet plane will be auctioned off, a first in the bureau’s history.
In March 2017, the aircraft was first alerted by Port of Subic but was later found at the hangar of Port of NAIA. It was disclosed that Magnum Air was a former locator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority but was delisted and ceased operations in 2014.
“Since 2014, wala na silang privilege, so lumalabas na (they no longer have privilege, so it appears that) it has been flying flights without any customs duties and taxes anymore. So dapat nagbayad kasi wala na silang tax-free privilege (They should have paid taxes because they already have no tax-free privilege),” Port of NAIA district collector Carmelita Talusan said.
Once the case is resolved and the aircraft is subject to bidding, the Customs legal division said, Magnum Air can still join in the bidding “because it would be as if they are buying their own aircraft.”
Magnum Air has already filed an appeal claiming they were not the owner of the seized commodity but its previous owner.
“In 2014 that was actually their argument then — they have internal issues within the company but the internal issues should not affect the case of fraud and the violation that was found,” Talusan said.
“Wala siyang import entry na finile (There was no import entry filed) and it has been flying for commercial flights, whatever the internal issues within the company of the previous owner to the present owner probably that has to be resolved by Skyjet and that can be included in their appeal,” she added.