Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

OVERKILL: Money down the drain

By Anton Java - Cebu Daily News

Those who have read the papers or seen news programs on TV would have known by now about the uber-pricey smuggled cars that the government destroyed in Subic last week.

Anyone who knows anything about cars would have gnashed their teeth looking at those BMWs, Lincolns and other top-of-the-line cars being ripped apart by heavy machinery.

Eighteen smuggled vehicles (not including a Lamborghini and a Porsche, suspiciously), each costing more than P2 million, reduced to heaps of scrap as fast as you can say “money down the drain.”

And that’s exactly how many saw it: Money down the drain. “Why were those cars destroyed?” was the question asked by many, including myself. “Couldn’t they have just sold those for good money and spent the money on something useful?” After all, a large part of a car’s price tag is in it’s gestalt. A whole, intact, scratchless BMW X5 is worth a lot more than the metal, glass, rubber, plastic, paint, and labor that went into making it. Crush a P2 million car and you’ll be lucky to sell the scrap for more than P200,000. P2 million can make four fully-furnished public school classrooms. P200,000 can build a wall or two, but what lessons can you teach between two walls?

So why destroy potential revenue?

“(Smugglers) will not be allowed to redeem the cars that may be auctioned to their paid proxies,” President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said.

While I personally would have liked to see the more immediate good that would have come from selling the cars and using the money for some good, I also have to agree that, in the long run, destroying the vehicles, and destroying them publicly, would do more to dissuade a smuggler from attempting to sneak anything into the country again, or at least for a while. For if we, the viewing public, would have winced seeing those cars crushed to a pulp, what of those who actually spent to buy those cars and tried to sneak them into the country? If I were in their place, I'd either be crying or jumping kicking and screaming in utter helplessness. After all, lessons most felt are the ones best learned.

However, there’s still the fact that the country could have used the money. We are, after all, a country of financial extremes, where the rich are swim in luxury and the poor are dying on the streets. Those cars could have helped, even if little, in evening out the odds. The rich could certainly afford those smuggled cars had the government sold them off, and the proceeds from those sales could have benefited the poor a great deal. Sure, the public destruction of those cars sent a long-term message. But we are also a country in dire need of short-term solutions.

And let’s not forget that these 18 cars are only a fraction of the hundreds of cars that are smuggled into the country every year, thanks to the many less-than-scrupulous individuals in our Customs bureaucracy who are on the payroll of smugglers. The 18 cars destroyed in Subic were the cargo of just one smuggler whose luck ran out (result of a disgruntled Customs contact, maybe?). But what of the many other smugglers who have successfully gotten hand of their cargo without paying rightful dues? What lessons have they learned?

The lesson that the government is teaching in destroying smuggled vehicles rather than selling them off may be effective, but it’s also selective. Last week, only one smuggler was taught a lesson. Other smugglers are more cautious now, I’m sure. But I’m just as sure that they are also still running their operations as if it was business as usual. And what of these smugglers’ Customs contacts? Who will teach them their lesson?

If the government is really sincere in curbing smuggling, then a public display of expensive cars being destroyed isn’t the solution. The solution is one that has repeatedly been demanded: Clean up Customs. Start with those who are only so willing to look the other way in exchange for a payoff. Not an easy task, but not an impossible one, either. And if the government needs funds to spend on investigations, it could always sell off things that it does catch being smuggled through customs. Things like luxury cars.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home


This is a joint private blog of volunteers from Subic Bay. It is being maintained primarily to collate articles that may be of importance to decision making related to the future of Subic Bay and as a source of reference material to construct the history of Subic Bay.

The articles herein posted remains the sole property of original authors and publications which has full credits to the articles.

Disclaimer: Readers should conduct their own research and due diligence before using any article herein posted for whatever intended purpose it may be. This private web log will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by a reader's reliance on information obtained from volunteers of this private blog.

www.subicbay.ph, http://olongapo-subic.com, http://sangunian.com, http://olongapo-ph.com, http://oictv.com, http://brgy-ph.com, http://subicbay-news.com, http://batanggapo.com 16 January 2012