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Keep an eye on that auction

"Miracles happen a lot at Customs."

Early this month, officials from the Bureau of Customs, specifically members of the intelligence group, examined an automobile that they would most likely see only once their lifetime. It was a 2020 McLaren 6201 Supercar, of which only 350 exist throughout the world!

For automobile aficionados, this vehicle represents the Holy Grail of all supercars. It was introduced in late 2019, essentially a road-legal version of McLaren’s highly influential individuals.

You can therefore imagine the utter shock and dismay of the agents at Customs when they found out that the importer only paid P1.5 million in taxes and duties for the vehicle.

It turns out that the group that brought the McLaren misdeclared it, as it usually happens at Customs, and tried to pass it off as a Porsche Cayman. This prompted veteran automobile journalist Vernon Sarne to quip: “You know a car is really expensive when the owner tries to undervalue it by quoting it as a Porsche.

To tell the truth, I am actually shocked and amazed why anybody, even the wealthiest Filipino, would want to own that car. Aren’t most of the roads here in Metro Manila bottlenecks? This reminds me of when Noynoy Aquino was president. Being a sports car lover, he would drive along the Tarlac-Luisita freeway at super-speed. That’s where he got his high.

The car’s market value is at least P33 million. Thus, the government should have been entitled to around P17 million, according to revenue oldtimers at Customs. That’s more than a P15 million swindle! Thankfully, the BOC issued an immediate warrant of seizure. The supercar is new under the safekeeping of the BOC.

I am sure that when news of this botched misdeclaration hit the media, many Filipino car enthusiasts began having horrid flashbacks and visions of past smuggled luxury vehicles being destroyed by giant wrecking machines. What a waste of truly rare automobiles!

Incidentally, I am still wondering why President Duterte had these smuggled luxury cars destroyed instead of having them auctioned to raise revenues for the government. Does the President hate fancy cars that much?

Fortunately, BOC spokesman Vincent Philip Moronilla has already gone on record to say that Customs is planning to auction off the limited-edition sports car in a bid to raise funds for the government’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Normally, President Duterte would just urge Customs to just go ahead and destroy that supercar. That would be the most definitive way to punish and disincentivize the perpetrators, and ensure that no “under the table” negotiations happen. Unfortunately, the virus has caused us to realize that we need all the money we can get our hands on.

The public needs to be vigilant of this auction, and to make sure that it actually takes place. According to many of my friends in the shipping and logistics industry, a common modus operandi is for the importers themselves to use a number of dummy entities to act as bidders, ensuring they are able to acquire the unit at a low price, and have the legal paperwork all sorted out in the process. Never underestimate the ingenuity of Filipinos. It happens all the time.

Accordingly, the BOC should set the minimum bid to reflect the fair market value of that supercar with the correct duties and taxes factored in full transparency. Due diligence, should be also made on all the personalities and groups vying for ownership. Miracles do happen at Customs.

**

According to DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones, public schools are set to open on August 24. That’s less than two weeks from now!

There have been so many problems for both students and teachers. Millions lack tools for online teaching and learning. Now, some 22.7 million students nationwide have enrolled. Why can’t school opening be postponed a month or two?

Not all those who enrolled have computers and Internet connection. A survey should be made on this.

Even the so-called face-to-face method of learning in allegedly no-risk areas is problematic.

The President should take advantage of ABS-CBN’s radio network for all public schools.

Duterte and Briones should explore all possibilities.

**

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año claims that 50 percent of those infected by the coronavirus are quarantined at home.

Perhaps the reason those infected with COVID-19 prefer to be quarantined at home is that they know that hospitals’ capacities are full.

If you get infected with the COVID-19, would you risk going to any hospital where there are no longer beds and whose workers are now overwhelmed with work? In my case, I’d rather be quarantined at home. So that’s what’s now happening.

This is another problem which Duterte and the IATF or Inter-Agency Task Force should address right away.

Topics: Emil Jurado , Bureau of Customs , smuggled luxury vehicles , 2020 McLaren 6201 Supercar , DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones , Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año
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