Tulfo: Legalize ‘ukay-ukay’

The government may a find new source of revenue once the importation of “ukay-ukay” or second-hand apparel becomes legal in the country.

This was a point made by neophyte Senator Raffy Tulfo during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means on Tuesday when he proposed the legalization of the importation of “ukay-ukay,” citing the “inefficiency” of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to prevent the entry of such imports.

“Since the Bureau of Customs cannot control the entry of ‘ukay-ukay,’ maybe we have to come up with a system na, I don’t know, legalize ‘ukay-ukay,’” Tulfo said.

“If you can’t really stop it, talk to our lawmakers to repeal the law, the policy to make the importation of ‘ukay-ukay’ in the country legal, and make them [the importers and resellers] pay the right taxes.”

Under Republic Act (RA) No. 4653, the commercial importation of used clothing and rags is prohibited due to health-risk concerns.

Despite the existing law, Tulfo said much of the public is not aware of it, hence, many establishments are selling these illegal products.

For its part, the BOC said that it had already “intensified” its efforts against the smuggling of “ukay-ukay.”

“We have seized several shipments of ‘ukay-ukay’ and we have filed cases also against those responsible for them,” said Customs Deputy Commissioner Edward Dy Buco.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who chairs the Ways and Means panel, supported Tulfo’s proposal.

“It’s about time to revisit the law. Like I said, we cannot fault the retailers for selling ‘ukay-ukay,’ because I don’t think they know it is illegal,” he said.

“In fact, many of the retailers pay business permits but they sell ‘ukay-ukay.’ I don’t think they are aware that those being sold are illegal under RA 4653.”

Gatchalian, who admitted he himself was not aware of the existing law, said that local government units must be informed about the provisions of RA 4653.

“I don’t know that ‘ukay-ukay’ is prohibited. In front of [Valenzuela] City Hall, there were ‘ukay’ukay [stores],” he said. “The local government units might not be informed that these types of operations are not within the bounds of law.”




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