A PROPOSAL to urge Congress to legalize the "ukay-ukay" trade has been introduced in the Baguio City council.

Ukay-ukay refers to used clothing and other personal items imported in bulk and sold in small retail stores.

Republic Act 4653 prohibits "the commercial importation of textile articles commonly known as used clothing and rags."

A proposed resolution by Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda makes a case for ukay-ukay, saying it has been the source of livelihood for many Baguio residents and has even become a tourist attraction in the city.

"In other tourist destinations such as Hong Kong, ukay-ukay has flourished and is a sustainable economic activity," Tabanda stated in the resolution.

She said there is no conclusive evidence imported used clothing is contaminated and may cause illness to the user.

"Ukay-ukay trade is now accepted even in international markets, it is no longer degrading for the Filipino to patronize these imported items," she said.

The proposal was referred to the Committee on Health and Sanitation, Ecology and Environmental Protection which recommended its approval.

Also up for deliberation is another proposed resolution from Councilor Leandro Yangot Jr. calling on the President to spare the ukay-ukay business in Baguio from the crackdown launched by the Bureau of Customs.

Tabanda and Councilor Fred Bagbagen are also supporting House Bill No. 4055 which legalizes the importation of used clothing.

The Committee on Market, Trade and Commerce chaired by Councilor Elaine Sembrano also recommended for inclusion in the proposed resolution the amendment or repeal of certain provisions in the Sanitation Code of the Philippines which prohibits the distribution or sale of articles such as clothes, shoes, linens, towels, bedding materials, blankets, pillows and anything used for sleeping or resting, which are second hand or made of second hand materials.

HB 4055, introduced by Cagayan De Oro 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez and Abante Mindanao Representative Maximo Rodriguez Jr. and co-authored by Rep. Nicasio Aliping Jr., allows the importation of used garments, saying it could bring in an estimated P700 million in taxes and duties annually. (Paul Rillorta)