By Ferdinand Patinio

SURRENDERED. A Customs officer takes a look at the red Bugatti Chiron sports car surrendered by its owner inside a house in Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City on Friday (Feb. 9, 2024). The vehicle is one of two Bugatti Chiron sports cars, worth PHP165 million each, that are the subject of a search by the BOC for being imported into the country without proper documents. (Photo courtesy of BOC)

MANILA – The owner of a smuggled red Bugatti Chiron sports car surrendered the vehicle to Customs authorities on Friday.

In a statement, Bureau of Customs (BOC) Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Juvymax Uy said the luxury car was surrendered to the joint team from the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) at a house in Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City, where the vehicle was hidden.

“Our intelligence is that the red Bugatti had been stored in a house in Alabang. Since we shared the information about the two cars publicly, it got harder for the owners to drive these anywhere,” Uy said.

The vehicle is one of the two Bugatti Chiron sports cars that are the subject of a search launched by the agency earlier this week. Authorities have yet to find the other vehicle — a blue unit with plate number NIM 5448.

Reports said these vehicles were seen traversing the roads of Pasay, Pasig, Muntinlupa and Cavite.

The two vehicles are registered to a certain Menguin Zhu and a certain Thu Thrang Nguyen.

The BOC is still establishing the cars’ country of origin and whether they are brand new or secondhand at the time of their importation.

BOC-CIIS Director Verne Enciso said they have already asked the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to investigate how the cars were given registration papers despite not having the proper importation documents.

“Of course, we want to get to the bottom of this. It’s not just about having the sports car in our possession now since it entered the country illegally, but it’s also about understanding how this happened and how such a car was registered despite having no import documents. We want to know who allowed this to happen,” he said.

The cars, which cost around PHP165 million each without customs duties and taxes, have been investigated by the BOC since November 2023 after receiving “derogatory information” about them.

Despite surrendering the car, the owner would still face charges for violating Section 1400 in relation to Section 1113 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act. (PNA)