In compliance with the directive of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) will condemn rather than auction off seized smuggled luxury vehicles to better deter smuggling, according to Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña.
In a press conference on February 13, Lapeña explained that smugglers usually undervalue imported luxury vehicles, knowing fully well they will be seized by BOC then disposed of through auction. Smugglers then participate in the auction, and if they win pay only about a fourth of the real value of the vehicle. The same smuggled vehicle will then be sold on the market at a price higher than the winning auction bid but still less than the vehicle’s real value, Lapeña said.
But when seized smuggled vehicles are condemned and destroyed, the BOC chief said smugglers will “think twice” before they import luxury vehicles into the country.
Scrap obtained from condemned vehicles will be donated through the Department of Local and Interior Government, which Lapeña said has a better way of determining beneficiaries.
The decision to condemn all seized smuggled luxury vehicles complies with the directive of Duterte, who on February 6 witnessed the condemnation of 20 smuggled luxury vehicles seized at the Port of Manila. Ten other smuggled luxury vehicles were destroyed in Cebu and Davao on the same day.
In a related development, Lapeña said BOC has already revoked the accreditation of importers of several seized smuggled luxury vehicles.
Currently, BOC has 22 more smuggled luxury vehicles seized at the Manila International Container Port.
The 22 vehicles, which include a McLaren, a Ferrari, a Lamborgini, a Rolls Royce, and a Toyota Land Cruiser, and have an estimated total worth of P133.685 million, received alerts in different months, and had been issued orders of forfeiture. Of the 22, 18 were consigned to Gamma Gray Marketing, whose accreditation has already been revoked.
There are also other seized luxury vehicles in other ports that are now undergoing litigation, Lapeña said.
Importers of the seized luxury vehicles were given 15 days upon receiving the forfeiture order to file an appeal. As of February 13, Lapeña said they have received appeals for the Ferrari and Lamborgini. He said these appeals will undergo due process to hear the importer’s side.