More luxury cars arrive in Cagayan despite ban


STA. ANA, Cagayan, Philippines—A shipment of 446 used luxury cars, sport utility vehicles, sedans and vans arrived at Port Irene here on Saturday, even as a controversy continues to rage over the legality of such importations in the face of a government ban upheld by the Supreme Court and despite a moratorium that the government has issued against their registration.

The MV Zambales, a Panamanian-registered cargo vessel, docked at the pier here at 8:30 a.m. amid rain and wind that delayed its arrival by 18 hours.

Officials of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza), which oversees the port’s operations, have dismissed allegations the arrival of the car shipment was in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling that reinstated a government ban on  the entry of used vehicles into the country.

At 10 a.m., the shipment was cleared for unloading by a boarding team representing the customs, quarantine and immigration bureaus. At 1 p.m., the ship’s ramp was lowered and stevedores began unloading the vehicles that originated from Yokohama, Japan, and Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Leilani Alameda, deputy collector of the Bureau of Customs here who was on the team that inspected the cargo, said the processing of the shipment would be deferred because of standing orders from Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon.

“This (inspection) is part of our mandated function to inspect cargo arriving in the country. But we are under strict instructions not to entertain any applications to have these processed, until further notice,” she said.

Based on a shipping manifest obtained by the Inquirer, the shipment contained about 30 Hummers, 53 Mercedes Benz sports cars, 21 BMWs of various models, seven Porsches consisting of 911, Boxster and Carrera models, a Ferrari F335 Berlinetta and a Lamborghini Murcielago.

The shipment also included high-end, off-road trucks and SUVs. The rest were passenger vans, sedans and miniwagons.

The vehicles were brought into the country through a permit issued to Fenix (Ceza) International, which took over from Forerunner Multi-Resources Inc. as the main importer of used cars here.

In a January 7 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of an injunction imposed against the operations of Forerunner in a case questioning the applicability of Executive Order No. 156 in its operations. The EO, issued by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2002, imposed a ban on imported vehicles, including at free ports, “to accelerate the sound development of the motor vehicle industry in the Philippines”.

Moments after the MV Zambales docked, about 10 people who were waiting at the pier boarded the ship with bags and luggage. Customs officials said they were the wives and family members of the 21 Filipino crewmembers who were issued boarding passes to join their loved ones during the vessel’s one-day stay here.

The port then became a virtual car showroom as the vehicles were rolled out of the 10,409-ton ship and inventoried by arrastre personnel before they were driven by the car dealers’ employees to the used-car compound in Casambalangan here, about two kilometers from Port Irene.

As the unloading progressed, car dealers, some of whom were Koreans, could be seen watching from a distance. A group of Pakistanis could be seen rolling out the Toyota miniwagons. A number of the units, including a yellow 2002 Lamborghini Murcielago, could not be started and had to be either towed or pushed to a hangar.

Ralph Patrick Iloy, the Ceza port operations chief, said the vehicles will be stored at the car lot pending the resolution of the legal question on whether or not they can be registered and sold.

The car dealers’ “only option will really be to export them if this ban becomes permanent,” he said.

The BOC and Land Transportation Office have separately issued directives to their field offices to discontinue the processing of the shipment that arrived here Saturday and an earlier shipment of 293 units that arrived on Feb. 11 aboard the MV Sungari.

Most of the vehicles that arrived here Saturday will undergo conversion from right-hand to left-hand drive to conform with Philippine highway standards.

The high-end cars, however, which are original left-hand drive, do not need converting, and are cleaned before being released to their new owners, according to Richard Lumayag, liaison officer of the New Apollo International Cagayan Trading Inc., the biggest dealer of used cars here.

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • M C

    Yan problema ng mga sasakyan ay problema ng mga may pambili ng sasakyan. Wag na lang natin pag sayangan ng panahon yan at hayaan na lang silang may mga pambili ng sasakyan umayos ng gusot nila. Kun tutuusin, ang may kasalanan dyan ay ang Board of Investment. Pinipigilan nila ang pagpasok ng mga bagong entrant sa car industry dahil sa malakas na lobby ng mga hapon na assemblers. Ito naman mga hapon ay nagprepresyo ng kotse na di naman maabot ng karaniwang mamimili. Naturalmente, bibili si Pinoy ng mura.  If only they allow new entrants, they can price a brand new unit at about P400T only and with robotic manufacturing technology, that can even go down to about P250T per unit. So why are brand new cars being price at least P900T? I challenge the BOI to open and liberalize the car manufacturing industry and there will be a brand new car that will cost below P500Thousand. Note that Peugeot, Fiat, Volkswagen and Lada want to come in. Mercedez Benz cars are being made in Malaysia, Vietnam and India. Audi and Volkswagen cars are being made in China.  Filipinos can enjoy these better brands without importing completely built-up units.

  • agustin

    Why is noy (AB) silent about this problem ? is he afraid of the old man ? we never heard even a single word from him.

  • opinyonlangpo

    The law itself has lost its meaning and its more politicize to protect few lobbying businessmen.”to accelerate the sound development of the motor vehicle industry in the Philippines” – this seems to be one of the objective of the law, what industry? The Philippines has no “motor vehicle industry”, its all foreign designed and made and maybe just partially assembled in the country. Filipinos are being fooled by whoever made these laws since it does the opposite and only enriched all those who supported and made the law. The effect of such laws just made cars as luxury items first and not as vehicles or transports first.If importation is open to all, cars and parts will all be cheap and safety standards will just be checked before registration or just be experimented upon by those who want to develop their own engines or parts. Anyway, its your country and your laws.

  • NoWorryBHappy

    Juan Ponce Enrile made a mess of the armed forces.
    He made it Asia’s weakest.
    Now, he’s making a mess of the economy.
    His political dynasty must be eradicated.

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