As promised, President Duterte has overseen the bulldozing of about 20 smuggled luxury cars worth more than a million dollars.
The vehicles, worth more 60 million pesos, were crushed during an event at the Bureau of Customs (BoC) in Manila today (Tuesday, February 6).
Brands included Lexus, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Jaguar and Corvette Stingray.
On the same day, another 10 high-end smuggled vehicles were condemned in the ports of Cebu and Davao.
As we reported yesterday, the president said the destruction of the cars was meant to send a message to wealthy car enthusiasts who do not pay right import duties.
“You want imported cars? Pay import duties first,” he said.
BoC Commissioner Isidro Lapeña has said vowed to destroy such cars rather than auction them due to concerns that the smugglers generally ended up buying them.
After inspecting the crushed remains of the cars today, the president said: “Give it to the buyer of steel.
“They cannot have cars like that. But they can get something, make toys out of it.”
Speaking to reporters before the destruction, finance minister Carlos Dominguez said: “It does not pay to evade taxes in the Philippines so might as well stop trying, because you will never succeed.”
Previously, seized smuggled vehicles have been impounded and then auctioned, with the government taking the proceeds.
The Bureau of Customs collects duties on imports and is a major revenue-generator for the government. However, it consistently tops independent surveys as one of the country’s most corrupt agencies.
Customs commissioner Isidro Lapena said in a speech at today’s ceremony that he has reassigned 691 of his approximately 7,000 employees since he took office last August.
Two other employees were dismissed and 16 others have been suspended over alleged illegal activity, he added.