Porsches, Corvettes, Mercedes crushed in Duterte graft warning

President Rodrigo Duterte watched as the vehicles, some valued as high as $115,000, were reduced to piles of scrap in a little over three minutes.

world Updated: Feb 06, 2018 17:29 IST
Agencies
Agencies
Agencies, Manila
Philippines,corruption,smuggling
A bulldozer destroys condemned smuggled luxury cars worth 61,626,000.00 pesos (approximately US$1.2 million), which include used Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jaguar and Corvette Stingray, during the 116th Bureau of Customs founding anniversary in Metro Manila, the Philippines, on February 6, 2018. (Reuters)

Bulldozers and backhoes pounded more than two dozen seized sports cars and luxury vehicles in the Philippines on Tuesday, including Porsches, Mercedes, Jaguars and Corvettes, in a dramatic demolition showcasing the no-nonsense leader’s crackdown on crime and corruption.

President Rodrigo Duterte watched as the second-hand vehicles, some valued as high as $115,000, were reduced to piles of scrap in a little over three minutes.

“Give it to the buyer of steel,” Duterte said, recalling his instruction to officials. “They cannot have cars like that. But they can get something, make toys out of it.”

A bulldozer destroys condemned smuggled luxury cars worth 61,626,000.00 pesos (approximately US$1.2 million), which include used Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jaguar and Corvette Stingray in Metro Manila, the Philippines, on February 6, 2018. (Reuters)

The Bureau of Customs seized $2.93 million worth of smuggled vehicles last year, part of the $866 million in seized goods, government data showed.

“It does not pay to evade taxes in the Philippines so might as well stop trying, because you will never succeed,” Duterte’s finance minister, Carlos Dominguez, told reporters before letting diggers loose on 20 slick-looking vehicles at a Manila port, including a Jaguar, a Lexus, a Corvette Stingray, and top-end German sedans and Japanese SUVs.

A further 10 were simultaneously destroyed in ports in the southern cities of Davao and Cebu.

Normally, seized smuggled vehicles are impounded and then auctioned with the government taking the proceeds.

The government last year destroyed more than $2.5 million worth of cigarettes bearing fake tax stamps.

President Rodrigo Duterte salutes while passing members of the customs police upon his arrival to witness the destruction of condemned smuggled luxury cars worth 61,626,000.00 pesos (approximately US$1.2 million) in Metro Manila, the Philippines, on February 6, 2018. (Reuters)

Duterte, known for his bloody war on drugs and disdain for criminals, has promised to usher in a “golden age of infrastructure” over six years, worth $180 billion. He has launched a comprehensive tax reform programme to help fund it.

The Bureau of Customs collects duties on imports and is one of the state’s key revenue-generating agencies. It consistently tops independent surveys as one of the country’s most corrupt government agencies.

Customs commissioner Isidro Lapena said in a speech at the ceremony that he has reassigned 691 of his some 7,000 employees since he took office in August last year. Two other employees were dismissed and 16 others have been suspended over alleged illegal activity, he added.

First Published: Feb 06, 2018 17:28 IST