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Duterte to watch car wrecking in Cagayan

/ 06:05 AM March 09, 2018

CONDEMNED Workers at Port Irene in Cagayan province inspect and document used imported cars unloaded at the Cagayan free port in this 2013 photo. —RICHARD BALONGLONG

TUGUEGARAO CITY—President Duterte is scheduled to travel to Port Irene in Santa Ana town, Cagayan province, next week to personally oversee the destruction of imported vehicles that have been sitting idly in a warehouse there.

Lawyer Byron San Pedro, senior deputy administrator of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza), said Mr. Duterte would witness the crushing of 14 luxury cars, the first batch of 855 imported vehicles that had been condemned.

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One of the importers of these vehicles had asked Ceza to give it time to prove ownership of the cars.

New bulldozer

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But during his visit to Tarlac City on Wednesday, Mr. Duterte said he would destroy the imported cars, which, he noted, were purposely abandoned at the port without paying customs duties so importers could reacquire them at a cheaper price from government auctions.

“I’ll buy a new bulldozer. I’ll run over them. No more imports,” he said, referring to cars impounded at Port Irene.

Ceza Administrator Raul Lambino earlier announced the destruction of the vehicles at Port Irene. In 2013, the Bureau of Customs stopped the processing of these vehicles following a Supreme Court ruling that rendered their importation illegal.

Since the ban, about 100 luxury vehicles have been stored inside an air-conditioned warehouse in Port Irene. These are closely guarded by security men.

The rest sat idly at a 5-hectare lot at Barangay Casambalangan, about 2 kilometers from Port Irene.

Used vehicles

Ceza records showed that from 2005 to 2013, 40,338 used vehicles were imported and entered the country through Port Irene, Ceza’s main port.

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Before the Supreme Court ruling, about 38,000 cars were processed and sold, with tariff duties paid to the government, records showed. Thirty-two vehicles were reexported as ambulance units. —REPORTS FROM MELVIN GASCON AND GABRIEL CARDINOZA

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TAGS: Cagayan province, destruction of imported vehicles, luxury cars, President Duterte
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