A bulldozer destroys condemned smuggled high-value cars worth 61.6 million pesos (US$1.2 million), which include used Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jaguar, Ford Explorer and Corvette Stingray, during the 116th Bureau of Customs founding anniversary in Metro Manila, Philippines February 6, 2018. Image Credit: Reuters

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte watched bulldozers flatten dozens of sports cars and other luxury vehicles Tuesday as part of a drive to fight corruption at the country’s customs bureau.

A Jaguar, a Lexus, a Corvette Stingray, and dozens of top-end German sedans and Japanese SUVs were crushed at a customs yard in the capital Manila. The vehicles were seized after they were smuggled in, authorities said.

A total of 30 vehicles worth a combined 61.6 million pesos ($1.2 million) were scrapped in Manila and two other cities on Duterte’s orders

“Reduce them to scrap metal,” President Rodrigo Duterte ordered customs employees in a speech on Tuesday. A massive bulldozer reduced the high-value vehicles into scrap metal: a Jaguar, a Lexus, a Corvette Stingray, and dozens of top-end German sedans and Japanese SUVs at a customs yard in Manila.

The president has made fighting corruption and illegal drugs the cornerstones of his six-year term.

“Reduce them to scrap metal,” Duterte said in a speech to customs employees after the event.

Normally, seized smuggled vehicles are impounded and then auctioned with the government taking the proceeds. “I will pay for them, no problem,” Duterte said.

The Bureau of Customs collects duties on imports and is one of the state’s key revenue-generating agencies. It consistently tops independent surveys as one of the country’s most corrupt government agencies. Customs commissioner Isidro Lapena said in a speech at the ceremony that he has reassigned 691 of his some 7,000 employees since he took office in August last year. Two other employees were dismissed and 16 others have been suspended over alleged illegal activity, he added.