Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s persistent efforts to demonstrate he is very tough on crime found him crushing impounded luxury cars with bulldozers on Tuesday.
The pancaked vehicles included Porsches, Mercedes, Jaguars, and Corvettes, some of them worth over a hundred thousand dollars.
“Give it to the buyer of steel. They cannot have cars like that. But they can get something, make toys out of it,” Duterte commanded, as quoted by Reuters. He must have been in a good mood that day. On a bad day, he would likely have ordered the steel from the cars melted down into bullets for high-speed insertion into the bodies of drug dealers.
“It does not pay to evade taxes in the Philippines so might as well stop trying, because you will never succeed,” chipped in Finance Minister Carlos Dominguez.
About 30 luxury vehicles were destroyed in Tuesday’s bulldozer smash-a-thon. Reuters cites figures from the Philippines Bureau of Customs that $2.93 million in smuggled vehicles and $2.5 million in cigarettes with fake tax stamps are among the $866 million in goods seized by the government last year.
AFP notes that normal procedures in the Philippines involve selling seized vehicles at auction, but Duterte waved that aside in this case. “I will pay for them, no problem,” he promised.
Last week, while announcing the car-crushing event, Duterte said smugglers often purchase their own vehicles from state confiscation auctions, essentially using the government to launder their illegal vehicles.
“Consignee fake news, fake name, fake address. Your style is you wait for one year and six months and then these are put on auction wherein you are also the ones who buy them. In that way, if these are auctioned then the importation of these luxury vehicles already becomes legal,” he explained.
“The Bureau of Customs collects duties on imports and is one of the state’s key revenue-generating agencies. It consistently tops independent surveys as one of the country’s most corrupt government agencies,” AFP adds.
The current commissioner has fired two employees and suspended 16 others for illegal activities since taking office last August, in addition to reassigning 691 personnel.