Republic of the Philippines HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Quezon City, Metro Manila

FOURTEENTH CONGRESS Second Regular Session


Introduced by AKBAYAN RepresentativeRISA HONTIVEROS

A RESOLUTION COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND COMMITTEE ON DIRECTING THE WAYS AND MEANS TO CONDUCT AN INVESTIGATION IN AID OF LEGISLATION INTO THE "BOOK TAX" LEVIED BY THE BUREAU OF CUSTOMS ON BOOKS IMPORTED INTO THE PHILIPPINES are Whereas,books the oldest, most enduring, and most loved inventions of the human race they are the most accessible yet immortal instruments by which mankind has, since the dawn of civilization, recorded the entirety of the bodies of knowledge of which it has come to be aware; preserved all of its ideas, recollections and imaginings; and shared with each and everyor," th" experiences, hopes and aspirations which define the history, evolution, and future of humanity; Whereas,in 1950, the international community, through the United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural and Organization recognized and affirmed this truth by sponsoring the Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials, otherwise known as the Florence Agreement, which declared that "the free exchange of ideas and knowledge and, in g"tr".ul, the widest possible dissemination of the diverse forms of selfexpressio-nused by civilizations are vitally important both for intellectual progress and international understanding, and consequently for the maintenance of world peace" and that such interchange is accomplished primarily by means of books, publications and other educational, scientific and cultural materials; the Philippines ratified this Agreement on August 30,1952 becoming one of the Wherens, earliest parties tnereto and effectively upholding its commitrnents as part of the law of the land; Whereas,under the Florence Agreement, the Philippines has undertaken not to impose customs duties on, or in connection with, the importation of books, publications and documents (Article I, Florence Agreement) and to, as far as possible, continue efforts to promote by every means the free circulation of educational, scientific or cultural materials, ubolrh or ieduce any restrictions to that free circulation that may otherwise not be specified in the Agreement, simplify the administrative procedure governing the importation of

safe customs educational, scientific or cultural materials, and facilitate the expeditious and IV, Florence Agreement); clearanceof educational, scientific or cultural materials (Article and other in Whereas, sum, the heart of the Agreement is to make it easier to import books and to reduce obstacles to the international educational, scientific, and culturai materials duties; circulation of such materials by exempting the same from payment of customs reciprocity, by Whereas,the operation of the Agreement is based too on the principle of at less cost which we benefit not only by acquiring books and other materials from abroad books and publications to other and with less difficulty, 6ut alsoby exporting Philippine parts of the world under the same privileges; reports in mass media have called our attention to the so'called "book tax," a Whereas,recent Department duty on the importation of books by air levied by the Bureau of Customs under Margarito B. Teves, Order 17-09 dated,March 24,2009 issued by the Secretary of Finance Clarificatory which in turn was based on Customs Memorandum Circular No' 79-09 te: of Books dated March 23, 2009 issued by Finance Guidelines on Duty Free Importation UndersecretaryEstelaV. Sales; and Whereas,the imposition of such duty is in direct contravention of our commitments Act 8047 or the obligations under the Florence Agreement and of the provisions of Republic Book Publishing Industry Development Ac! the Bureau the Whereas, "book tax" was purportedly imposed, arbitrarily and ultra aires,by foi its failure to meet its target collections for the previous to raise revenue to make "p periods; also already caused wherens,the imposition of the "book tax" is not only unlawful but has of 2009 virtually ' irreparable harm -- anecdotal reports show that between January to March had been stopped, and books -retained in all shipments by air of books into the country illegal duty as well storage released to importers and distributors only after payment of the as unreasonablyoppressivestoragefees; policy to "give Wherens,the imposition of such tax defeats the Republic's constitutional to foster patriotism priority to educition, science, and technology, atts, culture, and sports, human liberation and and nationalism, accelerate social progt"ii, and promote total development (Article II, Section 17,1987 Constitution); ensure that the laws of the werens,it is incumbent upon the congress of the Philippines to in both letter and land, including international treaty obligations, are faithfully observed as contained in spirit, to encourage the free flow and exchange of ideas and information unbridled access of the books, publications and other instruments, ind to protect the Filipino people thereto; Of thAt thc HOUSC NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED' the legal basis and effects Representativesconduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, into on the importation of of tne mposition of the so-called "book tax" by the Bureau of Customs books into the PhiliPPines. Adopted,