Archive for the ‘Smuggling’ Category

The government organized a big PR event to demonstrate to the public its determination to weed out smuggling in the country. Through the glaring lenses of the media, two wrecking machines at the Subic Freeport thrashed, with impunity, a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche Cayenne, Carrera, BMW and other high-end smuggled luxury cars. Ostensibly, the idea is to teach the car smugglers an expensive lesson.

But before smuggling as a national issue gets buried by the deepening war in the South and the swings in the peso value, we at the Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade) would like to ask — after the ceremonial destruction of a dozen or so smuggled vehicles, what now? Has smuggling stopped? Have the smugglers disappeared?

If the idea is to exterminate smuggling, the government should have fastened the car smugglers inside these luxury cars before proceeding with the destruction. Of course, the smugglers are worse than the Abu Sayyafs – for they kill not dozens of Filipinos but virtually millions, millions who are unable to find jobs due to the collapse of local industry and agriculture as a result of the widespread and still unchecked smuggling of goods from China and other countries. In addition, these smugglers deprive the government annually of at least P175 billion, not P50 billion, of foregone revenues.

The point is that the car destruction exercise is dramatic but meaningless – because it is faceless. As if the vehicles entered the Philippines without any human being touching them. For the government’s anti-smuggling campaign to gain credibility, the campaign should reveal the names of the big-time smugglers and coddlers in the country. These smugglers and coddlers should be put behind bars.

Without a name-and-shame campaign, the ceremonial car destruction might end up as a rehash of what happened in Divisoria March of 2006 when the government raided and closed Mall 168, the country’s biggest outlet for smuggled goods. Weeks after the crackdown, the mall reopened; it has since been operating without any respite, bursting to the seams with all kinds of smuggled goods.

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  • Founded in 2001, the Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade) of the Philippines is a broad multisectoral coalition of formal and informal labor, industry, agriculture, NGOs and youth pushing for trade and economic reforms.
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