Solon slams 'anti-poor' proposal to tax ukay-ukay, warns repeal of law to lead to 'unlimited' imports

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 17) – A lawmaker opposed Wednesday the proposal to slap taxes on secondhand clothes or ukay-ukay once legalized, citing its possible impact on buyers and sellers alike.

Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas said the proposal, made by Sen. Raffy Tulfo yesterday, is anti-poor given that many Filipinos rely on ukay-ukay stores for cheap clothing.

RELATED: Senators want law prohibiting ukay-ukay revisited amid its proliferation 

"Ang pagpapataw ng buwis dito ay magkakaroon ng epekto hindi lamang sa mga bumibili nito pero pati na rin sa mga maliliit na negosyante at online sellers na umaasa sa ukay-ukay para sa kanilang kabuhayan," said Brosas.

[Translation: Imposing taxes on these items will affect not only buyers but also small business owners and online sellers relying on ukay-ukay to make a living.]

The opposition lawmaker also warned that repealing Republic Act 4653, which bans the commercial importation of ukay-ukay, may further open up the Philippines to "unlimited" imports and deny the local garments industry a chance to recover.

"Buhayin at palakasin natin ang ating lokal na industriya upang hindi na umasa ang mamamayan sa second hand at makagawa pa ng mas maraming trabaho sa kabila ng krisis na ating kinakaharap," the solon said.

[Translation: Let us revive and strengthen our local industry so that our citizens need not rely on secondhand items and create more jobs amid the crisis we're facing.]

On Tuesday, House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Joey Salceda said they will move to repeal the law enacted in 1966.

Salceda, who estimates the ukay-ukay industry is worth ₱18 billion, said they will subject the motion to repeal RA 4653 and put in place Department of Health standards.

"It's time for the law to recognize what is real and legal to the ordinary Filipino anyway," he added.