President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines personally witnessed the destruction of smuggled luxury cars on Tuesday as bulldozers and backhoes smashed Porsches, Mercedes, Jaguars and Corvettes. The demolition of the 20 cars at Manila port, valued at P61.6 million (£0.85 million), is intended to reinforce his tough stance against crime and corruption.
“Give it to the buyer of steel,” Duterte instructed the officials after the cars were reduced to piles of scrap in a little over three minutes. “They cannot have cars like that. But they can get something, make toys out of it,” he added.
Duterte has earlier said that the destruction of luxury cars was meant to send a message to those who dodge tax.
“You want imported cars? Pay import duties first,” a report in Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted him as saying.
Demolition of 10 other luxury vehicles was also done simultaneously in the ports of Cebu and Davao.
“It does not pay to evade taxes in the Philippines so might as well stop trying, because you will never succeed,” Finance Minister Carlos Dominguez told reporters before the demolition.
Bureau of Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña has said that agency would not put smuggled cars up for auction any more. Duterte announced the new policy on February 01, alleging that some importers allowed the vehicles to be seized to buy them later at cheaper prices when they are auctioned off, instead of having to pay taxes.
A Reuters report notes that the Bureau of Customs seized £2.1 million worth of smuggled cars last year, part of the £620 million in seized goods.