Porsche pummelled, corvettes crushed in Duterte’s graft drive

Manila: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte watched bulldozers flatten dozens of sports cars and other luxury vehicles on Tuesday as part of a drive to fight corruption at the country’s customs bureau. A Jaguar, a Lexus, a Corvette Stingray, and dozens of top-end German sedans and Japanese SUVs were crushed at a customs yard in the capital Manila.
The vehicles were seized after they were smuggled in, authorities said. A total of 30 vehicles worth a combined 61.6 million pesos ($1.2 million) were scrapped in Manila and two other cities on Duterte’s orders .
The president has made fighting corruption and illegal drugs the cornerstones of his six-year term. “Reduce them to scrap metal,” Duterte said in a speech to customs employees after the event.
Normally, seized smuggled vehicles are impounded and then auctioned with the government taking the proceeds.
“I will pay for them, no problem,” Duterte said. 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.
Customs commissioner Isidro Lapena said in a speech at the ceremony that he has reassigned 691 of his some 7,000 employees since he took office in August last year.
“It does not pay to evade taxes in the Philippines so might as well stop trying, because you will never succeed,” Duterte’s finance minister, Carlos Dominguez, told reporters before letting diggers loose on 20 slick-looking vehicles at a Manila port. A further 10 were simultaneously destroyed in ports in the southern cities of Davao and Cebu.
The government last year destroyed more than $2.5 million worth of cigarettes bearing fake tax stamps. Duterte, known for his bloody war on drugs and disdain for criminals, has promised to usher in a “golden age of infrastructure” over six years, worth $180 billion. He has launched a comprehensive tax reform programme to help fund it.
— Agencies