MANILA, Philippines—Used-car importers in Cagayan Valley have asked Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon to allow the release of over 200 second-hand cars and vans that arrived on Monday, after the Supreme Court issued a ruling upholding a 2002 executive order banning the entry of second-hand car imports.
Jaime Vicente, the president of the Automotive Rebuilders’ Industry of Cagayan Valley, cited an executive order that then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo subsequently issued in 2005 that allowed such importation detailed the duties to be applied on second-hand motor vehicles.
In his letter to Biazon on Friday, Vicente said the Supreme Court upheld with finality the constitutionality of Arroyo’s Executive Order No. 418 except the provision levying a P500,000 additional duty on each used car import over and above the regular tariffs under the customs code.
He added that government agencies concerned with the used car importation, including the Bureau of Customs, have been issued writs of execution to implement EO 418 as established in the case of Executive Secretary vs. Fenix (Ceza) International, Inc.
“The constitutionality of EO 418, except Section 2 thereof which imposes P500,000 in addition to regular duty for imported used motor vehicles, was upheld by the Supreme Court in the case of Executive Secretary vs. Fenix [Ceza] International, Inc., promulgated on November 15, 2010,” Vicente said.
Meanwhile, the spokesman of the administration’s Team PNoy, Rep Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, said Biazon’s order stopping the release of the cars had nothing to do with politics and “everything to do with law enforcement.”
Evardone, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, made the statement amid insinuations that Biazon’s move was meant to discredit Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, one of the leaders of the United Nationalist Alliance and main author of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority charter.
“There should be no sacred cows, no special treatment in law enforcement. Is anyone complaining that we are enforcing the law? Is anyone suggesting that fighting smuggling is wrong?” Evardone said.
Vicente said the Supreme Court’s decision in the Fenix case was already final and executory and a writ of execution was issued to the Aparri regional trial court to execute the decision.
“Similar writs of execution directing the Bureau of Customs and the Cagayan Executive Zone Authority to obey the Fenix decision were issued,” Vicente said.
“It was in compliance with such writs of execution that the BOC, Ceza and [Land Transportation Office], allowed the importation by Fenix, which is valid and legal. We trust that you find the foregoing in order,” he added.
Vicente wrote Biazon after the customs chief ordered customs personnel in Port Irene to stop the release of more than 200 used cars and vans that arrived on Monday at the free port in Sta. Ana, Cagayan.
Biazon gave the order in connection with a ruling the Supreme Court rendered on Jan. 7. The January ruling lifted the injunction against the implementation of the EO 156 that Arroyo issue on Dec. 12, 2002 banning the importation of second-hand motor vehicles.
“Fenix made the importation of reported shipment by virtue of Executive Order 418 issued on April 4, 2005 which permits the importation of used motor vehicles and not Executive Order 156 (issued in 2002), which earlier banned the importation of used motor vehicles,” Vicente said in his letter to the Bureau of Customs.
Vicente said that Forerunner Multi Resources, Inc., the company involved in the case against the ban on used car importation, has, “in any case”, already stopped its importation of second-hand motor vehicles as early as January 2012 “in compliance with the temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court in a resolution dated Jan. 16, 2012.”
“I wish to correct the impression of some sectors in the media that our members are in defiance of the Supreme Court in as far as in the importation of used motor vehicles is concerned,” Vicente said.
Vicente added that the January 7, 2013 decision of the Supreme Court on Forerunner’s case against EO 156 was not final and executory.
“In fact, Forerunner already filed its motion for reconsideration on the said decision,” Vicente said.
Vicente claimed in his letter that the Jan. 7, 2013 decision upholding the ban on the importation of second-hand cars merely decided on the issue of preliminary injunction issued by the Court of Appeals on the implementation of EO 156.
“The Supreme Court decision was merely a decision on the issue of preliminary injunction and not on the main case which is still pending before the regional trial court of Aparri, Cagayan,” Vicente said.
“In other words, the decision dealt only with Forerunner’s legal right to seek preliminary injunctive relief. Thus, the main issue on Forerunner’s legal right to import used motor vehicles is yet to be finally resolved by the courts,” he added.