Make ukay-ukay legal — Tulfo

Senator Raffy Tulfo has proposed to legalize the importation of second-hand clothes, popularly known as ukay-ukay.

During the hearing of the Committee on Ways on Means on Tuesday, Tulfo cited the inability of the Bureau of Customs to prevent the entry of such imports.

“Since the BoC cannot control the entry of ukay-ukay, maybe we have to come up with a system, 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 pay the right taxes,” he added.

Under the Republic Act 4653, the commercial importation of used clothing and rags is prohibited due to health-risk concerns.

Despite the existing law, Tulfo said the public is not aware of the measure, 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 for those responsible it,” deputy Customs Commissioner Edward Dy Buco said.

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

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

“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,” he added.

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

“I don’t know that ukay-ukay is prohibited. In front of the (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 the law,” he added.

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