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Imported vehicles covered by BOC order accounted for

/ 01:10 AM September 25, 2015

THIS REFERS to the article titled, “What to do with rusting cars at Cagayan free port?” (Across the Nation, 9/9/15).

The allegations that “high-end cars have been sneaked out of Port Irene” are nothing but malicious and libelous talk aimed at besmirching the reputation of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) and other government agencies involved in monitoring and supervising importation and exportation operations in the Cagayan free port—such as, the Bureau of Customs (BOC), the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). For any irregularity in importation or exportation, these agencies can be held accountable. Monitoring and supervision begin from the moment the commodity arrives at the Cagayan free port until it is turned over to another jurisdiction. To allege that commodities are being “sneaked out” of the Cagayan free port is to accuse these agencies of allowing illegal activities right under their noses.

The allegation that these vehicles “were hidden inside container vans, hauled to the Manila pier via the Cagayan-Ilocos road and shipped to a port somewhere in Mindanao where their registration is processed” is nothing but a figment of a very creative but illogical mind. Several authorities, independent of each other, closely monitor importation and exportation at the Cagayan free port. Besides, other government authorities (e.g., the Philippine National Police, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Health) inspect the commodities before these are allowed to leave the free port. Not only that, the PNP and other agencies set up checkpoints at strategic locations along the national highway—from Cagayan to Ilocos, up to Manila. The process gets more meticulous as the commodity reaches the piers of Manila and Mindanao. Given all this, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to carry out “smuggling” activities through the free port.

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To date, the imported used vehicles covered by the BOC’s stoppage order remain intact and under the close supervision of the Ceza and other government agencies. All of them have been properly accounted for by the Ceza, the importers, BOC, LTO and BIR. We can assure that not a single unit has been illegally taken out of the free port’s premises.

May we also note that the stoppage order has led to a substantial loss in revenues, not only for importers but also for the Ceza, BOC, BIR and LTO. Despite this, we remain hopeful that the processing of used vehicles will resume.

—JOYCE MARIE JAYME-CALIMAG, public relations chief, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority

The allegations came from local sources who knew what was happening in the free port. It is unfortunate that the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority issued a blanket denial of these through its Pasig-based personnel who do not have a full grasp of the real situation in the field.

I ask Ceza to be transparent by opening the gates of Port Irene and allowing the public, especially the media, to do a physical count of the remaining vehicles impounded in the free port.

—MELVIN C. GASCON, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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TAGS: BIR, BoC, Bureau of Customs, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, Ceza, free port, letter, LTO, opinion, Smuggling
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