Government to wreck luxury cars to send 'strong message' vs smuggling
TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines – The Philippine government is set to wreck at least 100 sports cars at the Cagayan freeport to send a "strong message" of its efforts to crack down on smuggling.
In a phone interview on Tuesday, January 16, lawyer Raul Lambino, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) administrator, said they have all the legal parameters to proceed with the destruction of the luxury cars.
"The President is very clear in his instructions and directives that we should follow the rule so if they violate, let's apply the most extreme remedy or penalty. And the decision of the government is to destroy these cars," Lambino told Rappler.
The government in 2013 seized at least 900 cars shipped through CEZA freeport, stating that importations of used cars are prohibited.
These luxury cars, which are now kept in a warehouse in Santa Ana, Cagayan, included Mercedez Benzes, BMWs, Hummers, a Ferrari and a Lamborghini.
Lambino said they could not determine the value of the cars, as no one has yet to come forward to claim.
"...Some of the experts, they're saying that whoever the owners that tried to smuggled these cars into the country may have the knowledge of how much of these cars are really worth," the CEZA chief said.
Responding to suggestions that the government could benefit from the luxury cars if auctioned, Lambino said the cost of the cars are "immaterial," other than it was a "fruit of a poisonous tree."
"For us, it's immaterial whatever the cost of that car because the mere fact that they came into the country in violation of our existing laws, rules and regulations, nobody should profit from a fruit of a poisonous tree," Lambino said in a mix of Filipino and English.
He added that the government could even earn more benefit if the "strong message that the government did not tolerate or attempt [to tolerate] any form illegal activities."
"If you're going to deliver a strong message that this government is serious in fighting corruption, smuggling and other illegal activities, that will either be more profitable. The benefit the entire nation could get would not be quantified by the worth of these cars," he said.
He also admitted that the government has an option, according to CEZA rules and regulations, to auction smuggled items, but the "position of the government is to destroy them." – Rappler.com