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Ferraris, Porsches, Benzes to be wrecked

Sports and other cars smuggled into Cagayan port to be sent to crusher
By: - Correspondent / @melvingasconINQ
/ 06:40 AM January 12, 2018

A Mercedes Benz sports car is unloaded at Santa Ana port in Cagayan province. —RICHARD BALONGLONG

TUGUEGARAO CITY—At least 100 imported luxury cars in a warehouse at the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZF) in Port Irene in Santa Ana town, Cagayan province, will be crushed and destroyed, according to lawyer Raul Lambino, administrator of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza).

Lambino said he would order the destruction of the cars, some of them Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis, to send a message that the government was serious about its campaign against smuggling.

“Those cars will be sent to the crusher, definitely. We must destroy those to deliver a message that we will not tolerate activities like that,” he said, referring to the anomalous importation of secondhand vehicles using privileges granted to the Cagayan economic zone.

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At least 900 vehicles were shipped into Santa Ana port in 2013 despite a government ban. These vehicles have since been kept in a warehouse at Port Irene.

The luxury cars targeted for destruction were among four shipments of 1,352 used vehicles that arrived at Port Irene from December 2012 to February 2013.

Right-hand drives

These included 53 Mercedes Benz sports cars; 30 Hummers; 21 BMWs of various models; seven Porsches consisting of 911, Boxster and Carrera units; a Ferrari F355 Berlinetta; and a Lamborghini Murcielago.

The rest of the vehicles were right-hand drive passenger vans, sedans and miniwagons. These are now parked in a five-hectare yard in Casambalangan, a village about a kilometer from Port Irene.

Lambino, however, said no criminal charges would be filed against persons responsible for the importation because no one had claimed ownership of the cars yet.

According to documents obtained by the Inquirer, the vehicles were brought in by Fenix (Ceza) Inc., which was engaged in used car importation at the Cagayan free port.

These vehicles have not been registered and sold outside the zone after the Bureau of Customs (BOC) banned their importation.

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Poisonous fruit

Lambino dismissed earlier plans to have the vehicles registered and then auctioned off or donated to be used as ambulances or hearses.

“We cannot allow that because these are considered fruits of the poisonous tree,” he said, adding that it was a principle in law that no benefit could be derived from anything obtained through unlawful means.

But he said the fate of the luxury cars and other vehicles rested on President Duterte, who has direct supervision and control of Ceza.

The Inquirer on Thursday tried but failed to reach officials of Fenix.

The used car trade at the CSEZF had been riddled with controversies after the American Chamber of Commerce, invoking a 2006 Supreme Court ruling, questioned its operations in 2008.

This led to a series of lawsuits and counter-suits among the group of car importers and the BOC and Ceza. Despite the legal squabbles, car shipments, which included a fleet of luxury vehicles, continued to arrive at Port Irene.

In early 2013, then BOC Commissioner Ruffy Biazon stopped the processing of used vehicles imported through Port Irene, citing a separate Supreme Court ruling that banned the practice.

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TAGS: Benzes, Ferraris, imported luxury cars, Porsches, Smuggling
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