Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Auto groups denounce lifting of ban on converted vehicles


“Government authorities should not contradict themselves when it comes to the issue of banning converted second hand imported right hand vehicles.”

"Government authorities should not contradict themselves when it comes to the issue of banning converted second hand imported right hand vehicles."

This was the declaration of the officials of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI), Philippine Automotive Association (PAA), Automotive Industry Workers Alliance (AIWA) and the Motor Vehicles Parts Makers Association of the Philippines (MVPMAP) in denouncing the alleged new efforts of the Arroyo administration to allow the importation of converted second hand vehicles into the country.

While President Arroyo has repeatedly expressed her desire to curb the importation of converted right hand drive-second hand vehicles into the country, CAMPI president Elizabeth Lee accused other government officials of contradicting the Chief Executive’s stand on the issue by signing a memorandum of agreement to allow the importation of used cars.

Lee emphasized during a joint press conference at the Shangri-La Hotel that the importation of used cars will kill the local automotive industry, which is presently employing some 77,000 skilled personnel.

"This action is inconsistent and runs contrary to the President’s lawful objective for the auto industry," Lee said referring to the Executive Order 156 which prohibits the importation of used vehicles.

Industry leaders showed a copy of a memorandum for President Arroyo which claimed that Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita has directed the Department of Finance, Department of Trade and Industry, Bureau of Customs, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and Land Transportation Office to allow the importation and entry of used motor vehicles within the Subic Special Economic Zone.

The memorandum letter dated Sept. 8 was signed by Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Maria Merceditas Gutierrez and Senior Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs Jonathan Tenefrancia.

According to Lee, Senator Richard Gordon provided them a photo copy of the memorandum letter.

"It appears that the legal opinion was crafted to facilitate a surrender of the government’s announced policy to stop the illicit importation of used vehicles through Subic Freeport and other freeports. Rather than carrying on the effort to stop used vehicle importations, the Office of the President through this memo seems to be facilitating activities of the importers," she said.

Frank Mero, AIWA president, warned that workers in the automotive manufacturing sector will likely be the victims of the government’s latest move on the issue of importation of used cars.

Mero threatened to support street marches that call for the ouster of President Arroyo if the government will continue importing used vehicles despite the issue of economics and road worthiness.

"What we only want is for the auto industry to survive," Mero said.

For the first time in their long time battle against the importation of used converted vehicles, officials of the CAMPI, PAA, AIWA and MVPMAP released a copy of Subic vehicle import profit estimates that showed that so-called "auctioneers" of second hand imported vehicles can easily rake R174,508 profit from selling a converted 1988 Mitsubishi Pajero which has a selling price of some R230,000.

According to them, the acquisition cost of the 1988 Pajero is only at $200 per unit or R11,200 with paid taxes amounting to a mere R44,492


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