The Philippine Government, led by President Rodrigo Duterte, carried out its promise to destroy smuggled luxury cars. The government is sending a clear message to smugglers and other criminal syndicates they will not get away with it. President Duterte oversaw the destruction of these smuggled vehicles at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in Manila. A similar activity was also done at Cebu and Davao as well.
These cars, valued at P61.6 millon, were lined up and crushed by a bulldozer that ran them over, flattening the roofs and crushing the suspension systems. There was a Lexus ES300, BMW Alpina and a Z4, Mercedes Benz (S-Type), Audi A6 Quattro, Jaguar, and a Corvette Stingray. The destruction of these cars coincided with the 116th founding anniversary of the BOC.
Why Were They Destroyed?
As part of his campaign to fight corruption and smuggling, President Duterte earlier promised he would have confiscated luxury cars destroyed. Previously, it has been a practice to auction off these vehicles in order to generate funds that could be used any way the government sees fit to use it.
Even some netizens on social media aired that same sentiment, saying it is a waste to destroy such fine cars. They feel they should go to more deserving individuals rather than to those who tried to bring them in illegally.
Being luxury cars, these items are levied heavier taxes and other duties by the BOC. Smugglers find ways to get around by not declaring them, passing them off as other items or claiming they are used cars instead of brand new since the latter will fetch higher taxes. With no taxes and duties collected, there is no additional revenue by the government which in turn leads to fiscal issues.
By looking at this at a much bigger picture, the government will lack funds to finance projects and even increase the salaries of its employees.
As mentioned earlier, it was the practice of the government to auction off these vehicles in order to generate funds. The reason for the change in practice is that auctioning does not deter the continued smuggling and even corruption in the BOC. It has been revealed that the smugglers themselves are buying the cars at the auctions. If it is any indication, these individuals have ample money to “buy back” their cars. Although the government may have gotten something in return, these crooked individuals still got away with it.
The President instructed BOC Chief Isidro Lapena, “Don’t sell it because the situation will remain the same. They’ll still be the only ones who will benefit from it and they’ll be the only ones who’ll wait for the next auctions. It’s legal and it’s cheap because it’s auctioned.”
Through this activity, the government wants to demonstrate how serious they are in battling crime and corruption which is deeply rooted. This drastic measure is one of the small beginnings in its campaign. Despite objections of several, there are those who wholeheartedly support the government’s actions.
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Featured Image Source: Romeo Ranoco (Reuters, ABS-CBN)