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IMPORTERS’ APPEAL

Wrecking of luxury vehicles at Cagayan port delayed

By: - Correspondent / @melvingasconINQ
/ 05:15 AM March 06, 2018

Imported used luxury cars are unloaded at Santa Ana town in Cagayan province in this 2013 photo. Importers have appealed the government’s decision to destroy the vehicles. —MELVIN GASCON

TUGUEGARAO CITY — The importers of more than 800 vehicles, including luxury cars that were due for destruction, asked the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) to give them time to prove ownership.

Fenix (Ceza) Inc., one of the listed importers of the vehicles, submitted the appeal, earning the cars a reprieve at Port Irene in Santa Ana town, Cagayan province, said lawyer Byron San Pedro, Ceza senior deputy administrator.

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“As a matter of due process, we have given them the chance to explain why the vehicles should not be condemned. But we still have to comply with the order from President Duterte,” he said.

2013 shipment

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Raul Lambino, Ceza administrator, had ordered the destruction of the vehicles, which were supposedly smuggled into the country, that had been impounded at a car lot and warehouse at Port Irene.

These cars were what remained of about 1,300 vehicles that arrived at Port Irene from December 2012 to February 2013.

A shipping manifest of the last shipment in 2013 listed 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.

In its position paper, Fenix maintained that it was not guilty of smuggling because the imported vehicles remained inside Port Irene and were not intended to be taken out of the economic zone.

“Their argument may be tenable, but it may not be necessarily believable. For them to say the more than 800 vehicles are to be used within the free port by only a handful of employees is really ridiculous,” San Pedro said.

Due process

On the basis of the committee’s recommendation, Lambino decided to proceed with the disposal of the vehicles, but Fenix filed an appeal with the Ceza board of directors. The appeal will be discussed when the board convenes on March 12, San Pedro said.

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“While we respect their rights to exhaust all legal remedies available to them, it must be said that is an implied defiance of the order of President Duterte—that is, to make sure that these luxury cars will not fall into the same people who imported them in the first place,” he said.

San Pedro said Ceza would give vehicle owners a chance to explain why the condemnation should not proceed.

Peter Geroue, who owns one of the used car dealing firms at Port Irene, said he would yield to the orders of Mr. Duterte. “If that is the order of the President, we will not stand in the way; he is our elected leader and he knows best,” he said.

Like Fenix, Geroue denied that the vehicles were smuggled.

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TAGS: Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, Cagayan port, Ceza, Raul Lambino
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