12 August 2011

BOC seeks LTO help in locating Subic car

MANILA - The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is seeking the assistance of Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Assistant Secretary Virginia Torres in tracking down close to 2,000 imported vehicles that have reportedly gone missing.

Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez said a recent audit conducted by his office on locators at the Subic Bay Special Economic and Freeport Zone showed that there were 1,866 vehicles that were not accounted for.

“We have reasons to believe that many have been registered with the LTO. We are closely coordinating with the LTO so if they were registered, we would make sure that their registration would no longer be renewed,” Alvarez said.

He also threatened to seize the vehicles identified to have been illegally brought out of the Subic Freeport.

It appeared that the vehicles entered the country sometime in October 2007. At that time, Subic-based locators enjoyed the privilege of being exempted from paying duties and taxes for imported vehicles, provided that these would be used for their businesses.

Reports circulated then that some of the cars were illegally being sold outside the Subic area and the Supreme Court put a stop to this practice.

“So what happened was that there were thousands of cars, over 2,000, that could not be released if they could not pay the duties and taxes. So an inventory was conducted to establish the accountability of every locator,” Alvarez said.

“It turned out that 1,866 cannot be accounted for so they are either exported, which is allowed, or registered with the LTO which is within the Customs territory. So we are coordinating with the LTO to ensure that if these were registered,” he added.

He said the BOC could trace the missing vehicles by checking their chassis and engine numbers.

Alvarez said they would also check if fake documents were used in registering the vehicles with the LTO.

In registering the vehicles, their owners would have to present a certificate of payment proving that correct duties and taxes were paid. If fake documents were used, Alvarez said the car owners could face another case of falsification of public documents.

Alvarez got a copy of the inventory report only two days ago and he immediately coordinated with Torres, who he said has been “very supportive of all our initiatives.” (Evelyn Macairan, The Philippine Star)