Subic inventory : 1,800 second-hand cars missing
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Customs officials yesterday said 1,800 imported second-hand vehicles, which could not be resold to dealers because of a 2007 prohibition, have disappeared from this free port where the cars have been stored for three years now.
Errol Albano,chief of the Bureau of Customs at the Subic port, said the missing vehicles were part of the 2,907 used cars that importers kept in storage areas here since 2007, when then President Macapagal-Arroyo prohibited the resale of imported second-hand vehicles through Executive Order No. 156.
An inventory conducted by the Bureau of Customs and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority could not account for the 1,800 used cars which were supposed to have been stored in the yards of Subic locators, based on a 2007 inventory report.
“The locators will have to explain where these vehicles are now. We obtained their engine and chassis numbers and compared them with the 2007 inventory, which is the basis of our findings,” Albano said.
He said among the missing vehicles were Toyota Town Ace luxury cars, Toyota Hi-Ace vans, Mitsubishi Grandis wagons, Mitsubishi Space Gear wagons, Mitsubishi Pajeros and Toyota Land Cruisers.
He said the used cars that remained in the stock yards were in a “state of disrepair, [and many of the vehicles were] no longer in working condition because of [years of] nonuse.”
Albano, who assumed his post in April, said: “We are coordinating with the SBMA to address [the problem of vehicle smuggling] here. This is part of that initiative.”
He said the Subic port used to earn as much as P300 million to P400 million from the importation of second-hand vehicles, until the practice was stopped by EO 156.
Used car importers have asked President Aquino to lift EO 156 because of its impact on their trade.
Jojit Castillo, who operated a car importation business, said EO 156 “is responsible for the closure of many companies here and the loss of jobs of those employed by us.”
He said he was forced to store 50 imported second-hand vehicles in his yard, which are now damaged. “For the first few months, we were able to maintain these vehicles, but not for this long. It has already taken [us] about four years [of storage without recouping our investments],” he said.
“We have already lost hope. I have personally tied a [lot of capital] into this business but when we were hit by EO 156, we could no longer recover,” Castillo said.
“Today, you can still buy second-hand vehicles in Subic, but these are from Cagayan. Subic is just being used as a yard center for vehicles imported through Cagayan,” he said.
He said more than 40 locators were hurt by EO 156. “The government should allow us [to dispose of the vehicles we already imported before EO 156 took effect],” he said.
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