Philippine Strongman Duterte Crushes 30 Smuggled Luxury Cars with a Bulldozer

Couldn’t they have spared that classic Corvette?

byKyle Cheromcha|
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Enthusiasts, avert your eyes. Under the watchful eye of strongman leader Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine government used a bulldozer to crush 30 classic and exotic cars whose owners were accused of smuggling them into the country without paying taxes, according to ABC News.

The public ceremony was staged in downtown Manila and two nearby ports on Tuesday after Duterte, who is known internationally for supporting the extrajudicial killing of criminals, recently pledged a crackdown on illegally imported vehicles in the island nation. Among those selected for destruction were models from Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Jaguar, and a beautiful, white-on-blue C3-generation Corvette Stingray.

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After inspecting the cars, worth well over $1 million in total, Duterte declared that the flow of smuggled goods into the country "has to stop" and watched as customs officials flattened 20 of the condemned with a bulldozer. Simultaneously, authorities at the ports of Cebu and Davao used construction equipment to destroy the other 10, which included several Toyota Land Cruisers and a four-door Jeep Wrangler.

With the crushing complete, Duterte reportedly instructed officials to sell the wrecks to metal recyclers to further dismantle them. As Reuters points out, the government is in the midst of a big tax enforcement push to help fund a planned $180 billion infrastructure plan. It's not clear why Duterte ordered them destroyed instead of auctioned off, though it could be argued that $1 million wouldn't go very far in that regard. Also, the auction block isn't nearly as dramatic a punishment as a bulldozer.

Name that car., Facebook | Bureau of Customs PH

"It does not pay to evade taxes in the Philippines so might as well stop trying, because you will never succeed," Finance Minister Carlos Dominguez said, according to Reuters.

Governments around the world often crush smuggled cars as a deterrent, though the scale of Tuesday's demolition is usually reserved for more illicit things like drugs or ivory. Still, it's hard to say whether it will be enough to stop people: Luxury car taxes in the Philippines can top 50 percent.