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Left untouched for years, 50 seized used vehicles donated to PNP, Army

By: Villamor Visaya Jr.
@inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer

SAVED FROM SCRAP HEAP The government has decided to use still “serviceable” vehicles it had seized for violating import regulations at the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority in Santa Ana, Cagayan. —VILLAMOR VISAYA JR.

SANTA ANA, CAGAYAN—The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) has turned over 50 secondhand luxury vehicles, including sturdy Hummers and sport utility vehicles, to the police and the military although these cars were supposed to be destroyed.

Ceza Administrator Raul Lambino earlier this week said 350 other vehicles would be donated to national agencies and local governments in Cagayan Valley and nearby regions.

While some of the cars that were seized for violating import rules were rusting away at an open-air compound inside the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport in Port Irene here, Lambino said those that were donated were “serviceable,” or in good condition.

Despite a government ban on used and right-hand drive vehicles, about 900 such vehicles were imported. They arrived at the port in Santa Ana, Cagayan province, between December 2012 and February 2013, and were later forfeited in favor of the government.

In 2004, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued an executive order banning the importation of these vehicles and the Supreme Court upheld her order in February 2013.

The Automotive Rebuilding Industry Cagayan had opposed the ban, calling it a big blow to the used vehicle industry.

‘Strong message’

In 2018, President Duterte led the wrecking of at least 90 luxury cars to send a “strong message” on the government’s “no-nonsense” fight against smuggling.

But Ceza Deputy Administrator Agrimero Cruz, said Mr. Duterte had ordered the remaining vehicles to be donated to the uniformed services, including jail and fire bureaus.

“Many of these can be used as emergency or patrol vehicles, while the 4×4 units may be donated to hard-to-reach areas,” Cruz said.

Of the 50 cars given away on Monday, 18 were donated to the Cagayan police. These included 11 miniwagons, a Wrangler jeep, a Cayenne, a Grandia, a Pajero and three Hummers.

Seven Hummers were also donated to the military and another seven cars—four Starex vans, a Hummer and two Toyota cars—were awarded to Santa Ana town through Mayor Nelson Robinion.

Eighteen other cars were given to the town’s 18 villages.

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