Philippines crushes sports cars in Duterte graft warning

A bulldozer destroys condemned smuggled luxury cars, which include used Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jaguar and a Corvette Stingray, as part of a drive to fight corruption at the Philippines’ customs bureau. (AFP)
Updated 06 February 2018
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Philippines crushes sports cars in Duterte graft warning

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 (SR4.47 million) were scrapped in Manila and two other cities on Duterte’s orders.
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.


Floods close airport in Indian tourist hotspot of Kerala

Updated 11 min 58 sec ago
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Floods close airport in Indian tourist hotspot of Kerala

KOCHI: Flights in and out of the Indian tourist hotspot of Kerala were canceled for three days Wednesday as severe monsoon flooding ravaged the region.
At least 39 people have been killed in the past three weeks and more than 50,000 displaced in an area famed for its palm-lined beaches and tea plantations.
Authorities have opened the gates of 34 reservoirs as water reached dangerous levels.
Hundreds of villages have been flooded and the military has been called in to help with rescues.
More than 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) of roads and hundreds of homes have been destroyed or damaged across the state, officials said.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office announced on Twitter that Kochi International Airport — the main gateway to the region — would be closed until Saturday “due to heavy rains and resultant flooding.”
A Kerala State Disaster Management Authority official said that the death toll was expected to rise.
A heavy rainfall “red-alert” has been issued across much of the state, which is home to around 33 million people, the official added.
“Our state is in the midst of an unprecedented flood havoc,” Vijayan said earlier this week. “The calamity has caused immeasurable misery and devastation.”
The US embassy last week advised Americans to avoid Kerala, which drew more than one million foreign tourists last year, according to official data.