Baguio mayor slams BOC raid

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Thursday, September 4, 2014


BAGUIO City Mayor Mauricio Domogan defended the secondhand garment traders in the Summer Capital after the Bureau of Customs (BOC) conducted back-to-back operations to seize articles of clothing Tuesday and Wednesday.

Some 11 warehouses were raided and seized of at least P24.9 million worth of an estimated 3,050 bales of used clothing and garments.

According to the BOC, the products were found illegally imported to the country through the freeport zones.

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Republic Act 4653 was cited the legal basis of the operation which prohibits the commercial importations of secondhand garments.

It was believed the "ukay-ukay" products in the warehouses here in Baguio to be distributed to local retailers were able to enter the country in the freeport and export processing zones because they were declared as raw materials to be remanufactured and exported as rags.

Domogan expressed the operation was not because the sale of secondhand garments is against the law but because the way it was imported is illegal.

He highlighted if indeed the sale of secondhand garments is illegal, then traders in the city would have been apprehended a long time ago.

Instead of operations conducted to confiscate the bales to be distributed for local traders, Domogan stressed the Bureau of Customs should investigate on how these are passing through their office.

"Sana yung backyard nila ang unang tignan nila," he said to pinpoint the importers or illegal smugglers first as they are the ones really violating the law by abusing the free tax privileges granted to them.

Meanwhile, Domogan advised affected wholesalers to cooperate with the BOC to help trace the importers.

The mayor sympathized with the wholesalers because they admitted not knowing about the existing law and the process by which their products were imported in the country.

They told Domogan most of them do not really know the distributors from whom they acquire their products adding transactions were only made online, through SMS and calls.

"Klarong klaro na sila ay biktima din ng importers," he noted.

However, through cooperation with the BOC, Domogan hopes proper actions will be undertaken against the importers and so that no more local "ukay-ukay" traders will be victimized.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 05, 2014.

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