MANILA - Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon on Thursday ordered the suspension of processing of second-hand cars coming from Port Irene in Cagayan.
Biazon also asked the bureau's legal department to obtain a copy of the January 7 Supreme Court resolution affirming the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 156, which imposed a partial ban on the importation of used cars.
Biazon said they just learned of the Supreme Court order through media and need to get a copy of it to issue an appropriate order for implementation.
"Ang Port Irene is a freeport zone. Meron talagang facility paratingin ang mga sasakyan diyan. Ang question ay payagan ba palabasin iyan legally kahit magbayad ng tax and duties?" he asked.
"As of last month, may mga pinaparating silang mga sasakyan numbering to 100. Ang ano lang naman ngayon, huwag lang ilabas sa puerto considering the SC decision," he added.
He said the arrival of used cars at Port Irene has been ongoing. "Tuloy-tuloy iyan. Regularly, nagpaparating sila doon, kaya naka-establish ang LTO [Land Transportation Office] para sa registration."
This, as Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago plans to file a resolution to probe imported vehicles at the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Free Port (CSEZ). http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/regions/02/14/13/miriam-seeks-probe-cagayan-smuggling-hits-jpe
Santiago said the arrival of vehicles at Port Irene Monday was an "open defiance of a decision of the Supreme Court."
She also questioned the alleged involvement of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who she said was a "prime mover behind the CSEZ."
"Several years ago, he even arrogantly claimed that President Arroyo’s ban on importation of used vehicles was unconstitutional, and with constant hubris, he also sharply criticized the Supreme Court for upholding the ban," Santiago said.
Santiago said her resolution will also call for an investigation into Enrile’s role, adding that Enrile's acts concerning the Cagayan port "seeks to bolster the culture of impunity."
"The Senate needs to investigate why everyone in the Philippines is prohibited from imported vehicles except the entity created and protected by Enrile. What makes him so special?” she asked.
Biazon, meanwhile, said the Bureau of Customs is "neutral" on the issue. "Sa amin, revenue iyan eh. Dumarating, may collection ng duties and taxes."
"Kung meron naman final decision at pinagbawal iyan, it makes enforcement simpler for us," he added.
He said some of the vehicles that arrived at Port Irene could have been in transit when the Supreme Court issued the decision on the case.
"These cars are in transit during the decision. 'Di mo naman masasabi na nakahinto agad. Masasabi lang, to suspend ng process of importation. We will follow the court decision. We will uphold ban as soon as we got the finality of that decision," he added.