By Freddie Lazaro and Betheena Kae Unite
STA. ANA, Cagayan – The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) donated 50 vehicles impounded at Port Irene to the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the local government of Santa Ana, Cagayan in a simple ceremony last October 21 here, Secretary Raul. L. Lambino revealed Wednesday.
Lambino, the CEZA administrator and chief executive officer, said the vehicles were donated in compliance with the order of President Duterte.
The CEZA, which operates the Freeport, created a committee to conduct an inventory and document the vehicles as well as coordinate with the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
“We just released the first batch of the deeds of donation to the respective donees, such as the PNP, AFP, and the municipality of Sta. Ana,” Lambino said, adding that the second batch of the donation will soon be given to other donees.
“CEZA is hopeful that these vehicles could be useful to the recipients, and be put to good use instead of letting them rot in the port yard,” he said.
The list of vehicles awarded to the first batch includes 11 Hummer cars, 11 Miniwagons, 21, Starex vans, two high-end Toyota/Bb, one Honda Fit, one Wrangler jeep, one Cayenne, one Granvia, and one Pajero.
Last year, President Duterte instructed Lambino to distribute the vehicles to the police and the military, and the local governments in Cagayan province.
Lambino said that interested units of the military, police, local government units, and national government agencies, particularly in Cagayan, may write a letter of intent addressed to his office or in a form of a resolution for availing themselves of the remaining vehicles in Port Irene.
“Once the execution of the deed of donation is realized, the donee can take the vehicle for immediate registration to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and pay the taxes due to the government,” he said.
Many of these vehicles can be used as emergency or patrol vehicles, while the 4×4 units may be donated in hard-to-reach areas. The PNP and the AFP are the priority beneficiaries.
Duties and taxes
The BOC, however, said duties and taxes must be paid first before the seized luxury vehicles impounded at the Port of Irene could be released and turned over to beneficiary agencies, the bureau said Wednesday.
It cited the Section 4 of Republic Act No. 7916, otherwise known as the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995, which states that the movement of imported goods from the free-trade to a non-free-trade area in the country shall be subject to import duties.
Deputy Commissioner Edward James Dy Buco said the BOC has created a legal team to coordinate with CEZA.
Appropriate recommendation, he said, will be submitted to the Secretary of Finance that the duties and taxes for the donated vehicles be paid by the recipient through a deferred payment scheme pursuant to Customs Administrative Order No. 10- 2008 and Joint Circular No. 2-91.
The BOC added that Customs Administrative Order No. 11-2019 pursuant to Republic Act No. 10863 (the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act), states that all applicable duties, taxes and other charges on goods introduced into the Customs territory from the free zones shall be paid to the Bureau before release from custody, subject to the prior requirement of Authority to Release Imported Goods (ATRIG) for certain goods.
The bureau reiterated that under these laws, “payment of duties and taxes to the BOC must be made prior to the withdrawal of the imported luxury vehicles from CEZA.”