In the wake of Senator Raffy Tulfo's recent exposé, the alleged smuggling of two Bugatti Chiron supercars worth a staggering $6 million (P332,388,000) through the Bureau of Customs-Port of Batangas (BOC-POB) has plunged the Bureau of Customs (BOC) into a maelstrom of scrutiny.
Tulfo's revelation has ignited a fervor for a thorough Senate investigation and calls for a fundamental overhaul within the BOC, casting doubt on the agency's management, particularly at the Port of Batangas, the gateway where the two super expensive cars are believed to have slipped through unnoticed.
The clamor for accountability gained traction as Tulfo pointed at Atty. Rhea Gregorio, the Collector of BOC-POB, accusing her of lax scrutiny in handling the controversial shipment.
Tulfo's call for transparency underscores the need for an unequivocal statement from the BOC, confirming whether the two Bugatti Chiron vehicles did, in fact, pass through the pier and fulfill their tax obligations, given their classification as ultra-luxury vehicles with a value of $3 million each or, P168,000,000 each.
Addressing the plenary debate on the anticipated P29.3 billion budget for the Bureau of Customs in 2024 last November 17, Tulfo disclosed that the two Bugatti Chiron vehicles had covertly traversed BOC-Port of Batangas, allegedly misdeclared as Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks, which he described as a convenient alibi as pickup trucks can enter the country tax-free.
"I demand an official statement from the BOC verifying the passage of the two Bugatti Chiron vehicles through the pier and ensuring the correct taxes were paid. These are high-end vehicles, each valued at $3 million," insisted Tulfo.
The senator claimed that these extravagant cars were reportedly spotted in Pasay, with another report suggesting one navigating through Ortigas. However, Senator Sonny Angara, presenting the P29.3 billion budget for BOC in 2024, confirmed the absence of any official record at BOC regarding the entry of the two Bugatti Chiron vehicles.
"This implies that they slipped through, possibly due to incorrect declaration or other means. There is an intelligence failure here, signifying an entry without any record—clearly indicative of smuggling," declared Tulfo.
Tulfo emphasized that the owner of the vehicles should have paid the government a P6 million tax, exposing an alleged smuggling scheme where the high-end cars were declared as tax-exempt Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks.
This unfolding scandal raises profound questions about the integrity of customs procedures and underscores the imperative for a comprehensive investigation into the practices at BOC-POB pronto.
The shadow of doubt cast by this scandal demands swift and decisive action to restore public trust in the Bureau of Customs.
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