• Used vehicle importers: CEZA must issue permits

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    SANTA ANA, Cagayan: A group of vehicle importers is demanding the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) to issue “import permit” invoking its “legal right” to import used motor vehicles.

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    In a letter to CEZA, Lawyer Joseph Sagandoy Jr, one of the counsels for Fenix (CEZA) International, Inc., an importer of used motor vehicles, said that Fenix has a “legal right to make importation of used motor vehicles by virtue of Executive Order [EO] 418.”

    Sagandoy said EO 418, also known as “Modifying the Tariff Nomenclature and Rates of Import Duty on Used Motor Vehicles Under Section 104 of the Tariff and Customs Code of 1978” was issued on April 4, 2005 which “permits the importation of used vehicles.”

    “[EO 418 also] necessarily superseded Executive Order 156 which earlier banned the importation of used motor vehicles,” Sagandoy said in the letter dated November 25, 2013.

    To recall, Fenix has an application pending before the CEZA for the issuance of permit to import used motor vehicles and which were long withheld due to the question of the constitutionality of EO 418 raised before the court.

    But Sagandoy said the constitutionality of EO 418 was already upheld by the Supreme Court in the case of “Executive Secretary vs. Fenix [CEZA] International Inc.” which was promulgated on November 15, 2010.

    “[EO 418 was upheld] except Section 2 thereof which imposes P500,000 in addition to regular duty for imported used motor vehicles,” stated Sagandoy, adding that the resolution “became final and executory and was entered in the Book of Entries of Judgments of the Honorable Supreme Court.”

    Now, he said, the “Fenix Decision is already final and executory, and [a writ]of execution [was]issued to execute the said Decision.” The writ of execution was issued on June 14, 2011 ordering Sheriff George Balao of the RTC Branch 8 in Aparri, Cagayan.

    In a recent development, RTC Branch 6 of Aparri, Cagayan issued a decision on November 12, 2013 in favor of used vehicle importer Forerunner Multi-Resources, Inc. in its petition against respondents CEZA and other government agencies.

    Forerunner’s Petition for Prohibition and Certiorari had sought to enjoin CEZA and other respondents from enforcing and implementing EO 156; it was granted by the court.

    Signed by Presiding Judge Nelson Cortes, the court granted the petition and rendered judgment “declaring that Executive Order 418 impliedly repealed Executive Order 156.”

    The court also decided “declaring that Executive Order 418 rendered inoperative the ban on used motor vehicles; and permanently enjoining respondents from enforcing and implementing Executive Order 156.”

    “[Thus], we demand that you [CEZA] immediately grant our client’s application for the issuance of import permit,” Sagandoy stated in the letter.

    The letter also stated: “Your failure to comply with this demand shall constrain us to file, without further notice to you, all the appropriate civil, criminal and administrative cases against you for extremely prejudicing our client’s interest and for your contumacious conduct of refusing to obey and comply with the judicial mandates.”

    Meanwhile, Nilo Aldeguer, CEZA senior deputy administrator, said that CEZA will only issue import permit but strictly based on what the court “allows us to do.”

    “There are pending application for import permit due to issues that are cropping up like illegal importation and questions of constitutionality of applicable laws, but with the recent development, we are constrained to issue import permits,” Aldeguer said.

    If the court says so, he said, CEZA doesn’t have a choice, “but we will see to it that importers declare actual number of units that are to be imported before the issuance of import permit.”

    “We shall require any import groups with pending applications to first furnish us with the actual number of units as well as the description of each, otherwise, we will not allow entry of those that have not been declared, if there is any,” Aldeguer said.

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