WRECKING. President Rodrigo Duterte says an Aston Martin (left) was among those luxury cars imported through CEZA. Photos courtesy of PCOO and Aston Martin

Duterte to witness wrecking of imported luxury cars in Cagayan

Raymon DullanaRaymon Dullana is The Northern Forum's new editor in chief. He also works as correspondent for Rappler.com.

Cagayan

CAGAYAN, Philippines- President Rodrigo Duterte will fly to Cagayan province next week to personally watch the wrecking of illegally imported luxury cars at the freeport.

In an interview on Friday, March 9, lawyer Raul Lambino, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) administrator and CEO, confirmed that Duterte will come to the Santa Ana town on Wednesday, March 14.

“Yes, [he will come]. Closely coordinated naman kami,” Lambino told Forum.

Duterte had earlier said he will buy a new bulldozer for the wrecking of imported cars in CEZA freeport.

“Dito sa CEZA puro bago. ‘Yung hinahanap ninyong Aston Martin, nandiyan ‘yan. Next week puntahan ko ‘yan,” Duterte said during his 145th anniversary celebration of Tarlac on Wednesday, March 7.

“Magbili rin ako ng bagong bulldozer dito. Sagasaan ko lahat ‘yan. Wala nang import-import [I will buy a new bulldozer and destroy all of them. No more imports],” he added.

Lambino said a total of 14 luxury cars imported by First Cagayan will be wrecked during the visit of the President.

For these cars, he said First Cagayan “have not contested our order” when CEZA issued orders to seize and condemn the luxury vehicles.

“And when we issued order to seize this vehicles, they have not contested our order. They practically abandoned it already. So our decision of condemnation has become final and executory,” Lambino said.

Delayed wrecking of 800 cars

Lambino also revealed that they could not yet destroy more than 800 cars as its importers, Fenix Philippines, appealed to CEZA’s board.

“We have already made our decision to seize and condemn these vehicles, but they appealed decision to the CEZA board, pursuant to our guidelines, so they are being represented by PECABAR Law Firm,” he said.

The partners of PECABAR Law Firm, according to their official website, are former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, and other top lawyers Jesus M. Manalastas, Eleazar B. Reyes, and Joseph B. Sagandoy.

Fenix contested that the important was valid because these were covered by import permits issued by the previous administration of CEZA.

Lambino said they will give due process to Fenix’s position as they are set to discuss the latter’s appeal in their board meeting on March 16.

He, however, stressed that the government’s position was to wreck these imported cars since they entered to the country as illegal items.

“Our position was very clear that this importation was illegal because it is in violation of the government’s policy, to protect our car manufacturing interests in the country,” Lambino said.

“And there was an executive order to this effect issued by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo prohibiting the importation of secondhand vehicles in the country,” he added. Northernforum.net