MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is being urged by the Department of Finance to consider the issuance of differently colored license plates for cars imported through Special Economic Zones.
The DOF is proposing the plate program to curb smuggling of cars through ecozones.
Ecozone locators have previously been allowed to import vehicles tax-free for their own use, but they are not allowed to use these vehicles outside of ecozones.
However, news reports indicate that importers have been selling vehicles that were imported tax-free through ecozones.
The DOF believes issuing differently colored license plates for cars at ecozones would make it easier for authorities to determine which cars were imported through ecozones.
"We cannot have a level, competitive playing field if we do not strictly enforce the rules for everyone, even locators in ecozones. The new plates will keep our cars driving along Daang Matuwid," Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said.
Based on Land Transportation Office data, there was a significant decline in the number of imported motor vehicles registered under the category of "special registration," from 36,737 in 2010 to 28,952 in 2012, which characterizes the number of vehicles exempted from tax.
Most of the vehicles were from Region III, which has also dropped from 19,619 in 2010 to 16,941 in 2012.
The DOF pointed out the drop in LTO-specially registered cars does not follow the trend of continued increase of registrations in all classifications and types of cars from 2010 to 2012, implying that registered tax exempt vehicles have been sold outside freeports in Central Luzon.
In January 2013, the Supreme Court Second Division reinstated a decision of the Aparri Regional Court upholding Executive Order 156, which banned the importation of used cars in ecozones.
EO 156 issued in 2002 by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The Bureau of Customs has been ordered not to process vehicle importation in ecozones pending the finality of the Supreme Court decision.