High Court Rules Used Auto Importation in Subic Legal

Manila Bulletin, February 23, 2006 | Go to article overview

High Court Rules Used Auto Importation in Subic Legal


Byline: REY G. PANALIGAN

The Supreme Court has ruled that businessmen within the Subic Bay Freeport in Zambales can continue importing and trading used motor vehicles as they are not covered by the importation ban under Executive Order No. 156.

In a unanimous full court decision written by Justice Consuelo Ynares Santiago, the High Court said that the ban in EO 156 applies only to customs territory outside the presently secured fenced-in former Subic Naval Base area, known as the Subic Bay Freeport.

Section 3.1 of Article 2 of EO 156 prohibits the importation of used motor vehicles into the country. EO 156 was challenged by several businessmen before the trial court which ruled that it was unconstitutional. The trial courtas ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeals. MalacaA[+ or -]ang, through the Office of the Executive Secretary, elevated the issue before the Supreme Court.

Ruling on the issue, the Supreme Court said that "said provision (Section 3.1, Article 2 of EO 156) is declared valid insofar as it applies to the Philippine territory outside the presently fenced-in former Subic Naval Base area and void with respect to its application to the secured fenced-in former Subic Naval Base area," the High Court said.

It pointed out that used motor vehicles that come into the Philippine territory through the secured fenced-in former Subic Naval Base area may be stored, used, or traded therein, or exported out of the Philippine territory, but they cannot be imported into the Philippine territory outside of the secured fenced-in former Subic Naval Base area.

In voiding the provision of EO 156 as far as it applies to the Subic Bay Freeport, the High Court said that such provision runs afoul of two of the requisites of a valid administrative order a" that it is issued within the scope of authority given by the legislature and that it is reasonable.

"The proscription on the importation of used motor vehicles should be operative only outside the Freeport and the inclusion of said zone within the ambit of the prohibition is an invalid modification of RA 7227 (Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992)," it said. …

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