20 January 2010

Customs tapping LTO to blacklist 200 luxury cars, SUVs from Subic

Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales said he will ask the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to blacklist the more than 200 high-end cars and sports utility vehicles (SUVs) that were allegedly discovered missing in a warehouse within the Subic Bay Freeport in Olongapo City.

“Customs has the complete list of these luxury cars and SUVs and we will forward it to LTO in order to round up the missing vehicles,” Morales said.

The Bureau of Customs (BoC) tapped the LTO as part of its effort to seize the unaccounted motor vehicles with blue license plates that had gone out from the warehouses of locators doing business with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

They appeared to have imported permits from SBMA and “privately owned” brought in by locators who can operate warehouse in the Freeport for use as storage areas for their imported goods.

It was reported that duties and taxes due from the vehicles are estimated at P600 million considering that the rates of duties and taxes would average at P2 million per imported vehicle.

“There is a need to find these motor vehicles not only to collect duties and taxes but also for the administrative and criminal prosecution of any and all persons involved,” Morales said.

He added that Customs Task Force “Oplan Blue Plates” headed by his senior assistant Alex Arcilla has been activated to run after the vehicles since Subic District Collector Marietta Zamoranos issued a number of warrants of seizure and detention (WSD) against them.

They are believed to be moving around Metro Manila or in nearby provinces using spurious LTO certificates or used Import Permits issued by SBMA for authorities to import them from abroad.

Under Republic Act 7227, the Subic Special Economic Zone shall be operated and managed as a separate customs territory ensuring free flow or movement of goods and capital, as well as provide incentives such as tax and duty-free importations of raw materials, capital and equipment.

But Morales said its a different story once these imported items were released out of SBMA because they will be subjected to customs duties and taxes under the Customs and Tariff Code of the Philippines. (RAYMUND F. ANTONIO, Manila Bulletin)