FIREBRAND Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday showcased his no-nonsense crackdown on crime and corruption with a dramatic demolition of dozens of seized luxury cars including Porsches, Mercedes, Jaguars and Corvettes.
Duterte watched as bulldozers and backhoes pounded the second-hand vehicles, some valued as high as US$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.”
The Bureau of Customs seized US$2.93 million worth of smuggled vehicles last year, part of the US$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. A further 10 were simultaneously destroyed in ports in the southern cities of Davao and Cebu.
According to The Philippine Star, the cars destroyed at the Manila port comprised a Lexus ES300 1996, BMW Alpina, a used Honda Odyssey, mini Pajero, Mazda Roadster, Mitsubishi MMC, Toyota SW Towage Noah, Corvette Stingray, 2007 Mercedes-Benz S550, Ford Explorer Base 3.5L, a used Nissan 350Z, 1995 Mercedes-Benz C280, BMW 745, BMW 745Li, Hyundai Equus JS350, Audi A6 CUATRO, BMW Z4, Jaguar Type S and two units of Pajero.
In Davao, Duterte’s home city in the country’s southern region, authorities crushed a Toyota Tundra, Mercedes-Benz 2012 model, two units of brand new Toyota Land Cruiser L200, a brand new Mercedes-Benz, and two units of brand new Toyota Land Cruiser V8 2013 while the vehicles condemned in Cebu were an AudiS5, 2012 Jeep Wrangler and a Mercedes-Benz CLK 350.
The president said the cars were destroyed to prevent syndicates from purchasing the vehicles at a cheaper price during an auction, adding he promised to buy the scrap metal to be distributed to steel sellers.
He also promised to buy the scrap metal and to distribute them to steel sellers.
“If there is a liability there, I will pay. However small, it is still a thing of value. There is no problem. I will pay for it,” he said.
Duterte also used the demolition display to warn officials against smuggling and corruption, saying they would not be spared from legal action if they were found to be involved in the illicit activities.
“Not during my watch, not during my time… Stop at least during my time,” the President said.
The government last year destroyed more than US$2.5 million worth of cigarettes bearing fake tax stamps.
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 US$180 billion. He has launched a comprehensive tax reform programme to help fund it.
Additional reporting by Reuters.