Crazy cut cars and palm oil
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - January 12, 2018 - 12:00am

If President Rodrigo Duterte has his way, approximately 13 high end vehicles worth several hundred million pesos will end up being crushed by some heavy equipment or turned into “Crazy Cut Cars” just like those left over tiles many of us recycle as décor for backyard toilets. The President wants to do this to set an example.

Many people know of the practice of smugglers who import extremely expensive Super cars, have them intercepted by Customs thereby making Customs officials look good, then having the same cars put up for bidding where the smugglers and their cohorts join a rigged or orchestrated bidding. So if the cars are simply chopped up into unusable scrap, the President assumes it will greatly discourage smugglers.

For the first time ever, I actually reached out to a Cabinet member and volunteered to help chop up the cars so they can be turned into car art such as office tables, sofas, beds, barbecue pits, wine racks, lamp shades and chandeliers. The car art can then be put on exhibit all over the country as a statement of political will against smuggling. I of course would ask to have one piece for all that hard work!

Quite honestly, if the President wants a quick and easy solution, I recommended to my friend in the cabinet to adapt the rule or policy being used by the Dutch government. In the Netherlands, I personally saw the VIN number or Vehicle Identification Number as well as engine numbers of confiscated or condemned vehicles – cut off and destroyed. I wanted to buy a brand new car that was declared a total loss due to a minor electrical fire under the dashboard. The car would have been an easy fix but the guy who owned the junk yard informed me that their motor vehicle office immediately cuts off the VIN and engine number of any cars declared a total loss or unserviceable by any insurance company. To violate this law would result in the immediate closure of the business establishment not to mention criminal charges.

President Duterte can simply issue a Presidential order to the Bureau of Customs and the Land Transportation Office that henceforth, whenever the BOC intercepts or confiscates actual smuggled vehicles, the VIN and engine number should immediately be cut or destroyed by an officer from the LTO. All they’ll need is a small “angle grinder” or a hammer and chisel! After that the BOC can have the cars sold for parts or if need be turned into car art or donated to technical schools for training of would be mechanics. If for some reason, the law only allows auction or bidding for such smuggled vehicles, then maybe we can try a charity auction or raffle of the cars where anyone from Jolo to Aparri can buy raffle tickets to join. This is regularly done in the United States for fund raising purposes and they are always very successful.

The President can even extend the practice or action of destroying VIN numbers to include ALL vehicles declared total wrecks, unserviceable, used in committing a crime or involved in a major accident without sufficient insurance coverage to cover the cost of repairs. By doing this, the President will put into motion a system that will slowly reduce damaged or illegal vehicles on the road. Now that’s what they call “hitting so many birds” with one Presidential decree!

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Whatever drove the President to shut down a Consunji-owned plantation in Zamboanga, is certainly welcomed because many people are opposed to the development of palm oil plantations because that would be the beginning of the end for forest lands in Mindanao. All we have to do is look at the history of our ASEAN neighbors as far as palm oil plantations are concerned and you will realize that greed has no end, no compassion for indigenous people and no regard for the environment.

Remember the long term “haze” that polluted and blanketed Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia a few years back? Intentional forest fires meant to clear land for the development of palm oil plantation caused all that. Congress and the DENR should ban such plantations because there is already an over abundance of foreign suppliers and farms producing palm oil. The worst part is that palm oil competes with coconut oil, which is much healthier, and an established national product. Ban palm oil plantations!

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It’s nice to know that the new Bangko Sentral Governor Nestor Espenilla keeps an eye on reports and articles especially those concerning consumer complaints. After complaining that a check I filled out in blue ink was rejected/returned by another bank, I received a call from the Governor’s office requesting for details on the matter. I eventually found out that the “culprit” behind all those new and strict rules on how we issue and handle “checks/checques” is not the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas but rather a consortium of private banks called the Philippine Clearing House Corp. or PCHC.

After learning that I had not filed a complaint with the PCHC, The Governor’s representative Ms. Fe Dela Cruz a former media practitioner promised to look into the matter. I suspect that Governor Espenilla was eaves dropping on the conversation but opted to stay silent. In any case I did suggest that the BSP ought to set up its own hotline like #277 or #BSP so ordinary people can simply call in their complaints without having to go through such a complicated process. I also suggested that the BSP should reduce if not limit identification requirements of banks to one official ID or school ID for savings accounts especially students. Lets see what the BSP does about these things.

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