Manila – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago wanted an investigation on Thursday on the possible role of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile in the arrival of used cars in Cagayan.
Santiago called for a probing because the operation of Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Free Port (CSEZ) on Monday was a clear disobedience to the Supreme Court banning importation of vehicles.
The said operation in Cagayan include the shipment of more than 200 used cars and vans at Port Irene in Sta. Ana town.
“The Senate needs to investigate why everyone in the Philippines is prohibited from importing vehicles except the entity created and protected by Enrile. What makes him so special?” Santiago remarked.
Santiago said that Enrile was the “prime mover” behind the CSEZ.
In fact, Jose Mari Ponce, Enrile’s nephew, is the Vice Chairman of Cagayan Economic Zone Authority while his dughter Katrina is part of the Board of Directors.
Moreover, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Executive Order 156 issued by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo imposing a partial ban on the importation of used cars.
The SC ruled that vehicles imported from abroad “may only be stored, used or traded, or exported out of Philippine territory, but cannot be imported into the Philippines outside of the secured fenced-in former Subic Naval Base area.”
However, the CSEZ reportedly refused to abide on the said ruling because the permits were issued prior to the decision of the high tribunal last January 7.
But Senator Santiago debunked this claim from CSEZ.
“It is absurd for the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) to claim that it could still import used vehicles for permits prior to the decision of the Supreme Court last January 7. CEZA has no authority to process import permits whether issued prior to the decision of the Court last January 7 or thereafter, since the Court already upheld the constitutionality of E.O. No. 156 as early as 2006,” Santiago said.