We all know the Bureau of Customs is a fetid cesspool inhabited by corrupt people. Where else can an ordinary employee in the Philippines afford a Porsche? But to be fair to those concerned, there are still righteous individuals who aspire to rid the bureau of blatant, soul-sucking venality. Which explains why we'd occasionally hear about campaigns against car smugglers and unscrupulous gray-market vehicle importers.
Today, these few good men inside Customs once again stepped forward to tell the world about the latest batch of "grossly undervalued" luxury cars at the Port of Batangas. According to the BOC's media advisory, it has issued alert orders on 14 luxury vehicles, which were received last July 24 and consigned to Monacat Trading Enterprises. The Customs said that the vehicles were undervalued by "an average of 24.09%."
As you know, taxes imposed on imported cars are value-based. This means the importer of these luxury vehicles was trying to cheat the government by a fourth of the taxes it was supposed to pay. Nothing new there, of course. In fact, we're surprised the figure is only 24%. What we find interesting here is the methodology to the trick. Now we think we have a clear picture of how fly-by-night car importers undervalue the vehicles they bring in.
Take a look at the list of said luxury cars.
Notice the model names of the cars? Check out the photos of the actual units below and tell us what's wrong. Most of the model names are flat-out incorrect: Either the car names are those of lower models by the same brand, or those of lower (and obviously cheaper) variants.
There are two units of "Mercedes-Benz C200" listed, for instance. If you check the pictures--sent to us by a source who requested not to be identified--there are only a C63 AMG and a CLK DTM AMG, which are definitely way more expensive than a regular C200. The roster then itemizes two units of GLK350, but one photo reveals a G63 AMG!
The list also mentions a Land Rover LR2 and two Defender units, but one of the pictures shows a Range Rover, which, of course, is the luxury model of Land Rover. There is a Ferrari California on the list, but what in fact is part of the imported batch is a 458 Speciale (not included in the photos here but clearly shown in the picture shared by a TV reporter).
The list likewise includes four units of Toyota Land Cruiser GX and one unit of Land Cruiser Prado. Our source told us, however, that at least one unit of the Land Cruisers is bulletproof, so that's not your ordinary, straight-out-of-the-showroom Land Cruiser.
And what about the McLaren? The BOC list says "450C." There is no McLaren model called 450C. Indeed, the photo shows either an MP4-12C or a 650S (sorry, the images aren't clear enough and these two McLaren models look the same from the rear).
So that's the modus, we guess: Undervalue these cars by declaring lower-model or lower-variant names to clueless BOC assessors. Then again, who knows if these assessors are really clueless? Perhaps they're also part of the charade.
Our suggestion: Assign a car guy to the automotive section of BOC and put him in charge of all the luxury vehicles and supercars being brought in by gray-market importers and even legit distributors. And then make him 100% accountable for these units.
It's time to make these sons of bitches pay the right taxes. If a Toyota Vios buyer is charged 100% of the car's tariff, why should the super-rich importer of a Lamborghini Huracan pay only half of his?