17 vehicles seized in Cebu-A A +A
Saturday, March 9, 2013
CEBU CITY -- Seventeen right-hand drive vehicles (RHD) worth P5 million were seized by law enforcers from a car shop in Barangay San Roque, Talisay City, Cebu last Friday.
The vehicles, which reportedly came from Japan, were believed to have been smuggled. The shipment was declared as spare parts so it would easily pass through the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Central Visayas also arrested Gary M. Lapinid, the shop owner, during the operation at 9 a.m.
The raid came after the law enforcement agency received information last March 6 that the cars were unloaded from a 40-foot cargo container inside the GML Auto Spare Parts Dealer Co.
Chief Inspector Errol Garchitorena Jr., the special operations team leader, said they immediately conducted surveillance and confirmed the cars were RHD units.
The vehicles were unloaded while the shop was covered with tarpaulin, apparently so the work would not be seen from outside.
“Suspicious gyud kayo (It was really suspicious),” Garchitorena said.
When the law enforcers got a picture of the shop located on Rabaya St., they applied for a search warrant from Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 19 Judge Wilfredo Navarro.
Garchitorena said they served the warrant against Lapinid, 57, shortly after the shop opened for business last Friday.
“Wala na siya kadagan pa. Nakasulod naman mi tanan didto (He didn’t run. All of the operatives got inside),” he said.
The operatives confiscated two Mitsubishi Colt units, one Suzuki Swift, four Toyota BB, one Toyota Yaris, one Toyota Colt, one Toyota RUNX, six Nissan Cube and one Honda Mobilio.
When interrogated by law enforcers, the businessman revealed he had only served as a broker and was supposed to get a commission from the sold vehicles. He has a valid business permit.
“Naa kuno siya’y financier pero dili mosulti kinsa (He wouldn’t identify his financier),” Garchitorena said, adding the shop reportedly received shipments twice a month.
He said Lapinid had been on their watch for some time after he was suspected of selling smuggled vehicles.
A complaint for violating Republic Act (RA) 8506, which bans the importation, registration and operation of RHD vehicles, will be filed against Lapinid on Monday.
Garchitorena, when interviewed by Sun.Star Cebu, said the selling of converted vehicles is rampant in the country.
He said the vehicles were no longer used in other countries such as Japan because these had reached their life span, or newer units were already available.
“Unya usa ta sa mga modawat nga nasod anang mga sakyanana. Bahala na ug karaan, basta modagan pa, okay pa (Our is one of the countries that receive these units. Most people don’t mind if the units are old and beat-up, as long as they still run),” Garchitorena said.
He said it’s not advisable to buy converted vehicles because these are traffic hazards.
“Dili gyud na siya reliable bisan pa ug maayo pagka-convert (They are not reliable, regardless of how well these were converted),” Garchitorena said.
He said there will be more operations that will be conducted, and urged the public to report vehicles that may have been acquired suspiciously.
The confiscated vehicles are temporarily being kept in the CIDG-Central Visayas compound and will be turned over to the BOC.
In a similar operation, agents of the National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas had seized 10 Honda Fit cars from a car shop in Barangay Basak, Mandaue City last Wednesday. These were believed to have been smuggled. (Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 10, 2013.