Over €1 million worth of luxury cars smashed to pieces in Philippines by customs control

A McLaren, Bentley and Porsche crushed by a backhoe… it’s enough to make any car enthusiast wince. These are just a few of the luxury cars – totalling over €1 million – that were destroyed by the Philippines Bureau of Customs (BOC) on June 18 in a grand show of force against car smugglers.

A Porsche 911 is crushed with a backhoe in an anti-smuggling operation by the Philippines Bureau of Customs on June 18.
A Porsche 911 is crushed with a backhoe in an anti-smuggling operation by the Philippines Bureau of Customs on June 18. © Facebook

In a post on their Facebook page on June 18, the Philippines Bureau of Customs posted a series of photos showing seven cars being crushed by construction equipment on a lot in Manila. The cars destroyed included luxury models such as a brand new McLaren 620R, a used Bentley 2007, and a used Porsche 911. A Hyundai Genesis and Toyota Solara were also demolished. 

According to the BOC, the demolition serves to “send the strong message that the government is serious in its efforts against smuggling”.

Meanwhile, in Cagayan de Oro, 14 Mitsubishi Jeeps were destroyed the same day. The Jeeps – dismantled into parts and packed into container vans – arrived in the Philippines in October 2018 from Japan. 

In total, 21 vehicles worth ₱58.55 million (around €1.01 million) were condemned. 

The vehicles were all imported illegally into the Philippines by various shippers and seized on separate occasions between 2018 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Customs. 

Smuggled vehicles are often concealed in shipping containers and not declared by importers, in order for them to avoid paying customs duties and taxes based on the car’s value. In November 2020, the BOC confiscated the Porsche, Bentley and Mercedes from a shipping container coming from Japan. The container was declared as containing furniture items. Other smugglers hide the cars under piles of used clothing.

Since 2018, after a directive from Philippino President Rodrigo Duterte, the BOC has opted to destroy smuggled cars rather than auction them, in order to send a strong warning to smugglers as well as prevent them from reclaiming their cars at auction. 

Cracking down on crime and corruption has been an integral component of Duterte’s presidency. In May 2018, Duterte oversaw the destruction of more than 100 smuggled cars and motorcycles in Manila, worth more than ₱34 million (around €590,000). 

The Philippines Bureau of Customs reported seizing ₱356 million (€6.15 million) worth of automobiles and related goods in 2020.