Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Monday, September 20, 2004

Tax illegal RHDs-Gordon

Taxing some 600,000 right-hand drive (RHD) vehicles brought into the country and sold in the market in the past six years would help the country earn cash to prop up its fiscal position.
Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate government corporations committee, said the Philippines has become a junkyard of foreign-made used RHDs that emit toxic gases.
This, in spite of the fact that there is a six-year-old law, Republic Act No. 8506, that bans the importation, registration and operation of RHDs.
The law imposes a penalty of prision correccional and a fine of P50,000 on violators.
Most of these RHDs, which come from Japan and other countries, enter the country through the Subic Freeport and other economic zones.
Gordon said besides RHDs, drugs and cigarettes are also introduced through Subic. He vowed to bare all in his privilege speech. He described as "dangerous" the driving of converted RHDs since parts underneath are simply welded.
Gordon said his committee is still studying the correct amount to be collected from buyers of converted vehicles under the Arroyo administration’s tax amnesty bill.
Relatedly, Gordon distributed to media copies of the March 11, 2004 report of the Commission on Audit (CoA) on the Subic Bay Freeport Zone stating that the validity of the accounts receivable totaling P2.8 billion as of Dec. 31, 2003 "is doubtful due to the unsatisfactory results of confirmation."
Asked if he knows how many RHD importers are involved, Gordon said there are no legitimate importers since RHDs are prohibited by law. He said that most, if not all, of RHD vehicles, mostly passenger vans and cars, were unloaded at the former Subic Bay, which is under the supervision and control of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) whose chairman is former Bataan Rep. Felicito Payumo.
What should be imported and auctioned are parts or equipment, Gordon said.
Gordon said Sen. Mar Roxas, then Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) secretary, had moved to ban importation of RHDs but failed in his try.
He asserted that his move does not mean a resumption of the Gordon- Payumo fight since it is meant to protect the country.
"I have held my peace when I was tourism secretary. But I was a team player (under the Arroyo administration)," Gordon said, stressing that as senator, he could now expose anomalies at the "graft-ridden" SBMA.
Gordon said he found it questionable for a member of the SBMA board, reported to be a son of a provincial governor, to be an incorporator of one of the firms auctioning these vehicles. (Mario B. Casayuran)


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