Senator Raffy Tulfo proposed that “ukay-ukay” or second-hand garments, should be made legal so that the government could benefit from taxes.
Tulfo made the suggestion during the Senate committee on ways and means hearing on Tuesday, August 16. The senator lambasted the Bureau of Customs’ negligence for allowing the influx of “ukay-ukay” in the country.
Under Republic Act (RA) No. 4653, it’s prohibited to commercially import used clothing as it may pose a risk to public health and affect the nation’s dignity. Tulfo said the influx of “ukay-ukay” in the country must have been due to rampant smuggling by “big time syndicates.”
“Why in the heck tumingin ka kaliwa’t kanan, Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao nagkalat ang ukay-ukay? Ano pong ginagawa ng BOC ba’t nakakalusot itong mga ukay-ukay?” Tulfo was quoted in an article by ABS-CBN.
To amend the situation, Tulfo suggested that it’s probably better if the “ukay-ukay” industry will be made legal where taxes will be imposed.
“Siguro, since hindi po kayang control-in ng Bureau of Customs ‘yung pagpasok ng ukay-ukay, siguro we have to come up with a system na, I don’t know, legalize ukay-ukay,” he was quoted in an article by the Inquirer.
“Kung hindi niyo na po kaya talagang pigilan, kausapin niyo po siguro ‘yung mga mambabatas na para baguhin ‘yung batas natin, ‘yung policy to make the ukay-ukay legal na pwede na pong pumasok ng bansa at magbayad po ng tamang buwis,” he added.
Tulfo clarified that he is not against “ukay-ukay” owners or vendors but reiterated that the BOC seems to be failing in its mandate to impose the law. He explained that it’s unfair for small-time “ukay-ukay” business owners to pay taxes while the big suppliers importing or smuggling these goods in the country don’t pay a single centavo.
“Binibili din nila yun eh. They didn’t know na yung pinagbilan nila hindi nagbabayad ng buwis. Yung mga maliliit na ukay-ukay nagbabayad sila ng buwis, wheres itong mga nagparating ng ukay ni singkong duling walang binabayaran,” Tulfo said.
He lamented how officials are going after small-time business owners while big “ukay-ukay” syndicates remain unscathed.
“Kaysa naman po tinutugis niyo ang online sellers at vloggers na barya-barya lang po ang kinikita, samantalang yang mga ukay-ukay malalaking sindikato po nasa likod n’yan,” he added.
Meanwhile, BOC deputy commissioner Edward James Buco confirmed that they would be doubling their efforts against smugglers and operators of “ukay-ukay” in the country.
“As we heighten and intensify our efforts against smuggling, the smugglers also become more innovative… One factor really making it hard for us to find kasi ay ‘pag tiningnan sa x-ray ‘yan, for examples, there are also textiles,” Buco said.