Press Release
October 30, 2015


With the expected influx of foreign donations into the country, Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero urged the government to waive tax and hasten the processing and release of all donated relief goods to victims of Typhoon "Lando" in Northern and Central Luzon.

Escudero said taxation and red tape issues must be eliminated in order to facilitate the faster distribution of relief goods to some 1.2 million people affected by the strongest tropical storm to hit Luzon in five years.

"The urgently needed aid for Lando victims should not be delayed from reaching communities due to taxation and customs procedures," Escudero pointed out.

It was earlier reported that the international community has started efforts to bring relief to Lando victims, with Australia vowing to provide P33 million in emergency relief supplies. France also offered assistance to typhoon survivors.

Foreign organizations and Filipino communities abroad have also begun gathering cash donations and relief goods for the victims.

Escudero has sought to institutionalize the customs duty or tax exemption on donated relief goods when he filed Senate Bill No. 422, also known as the Anti-Smuggling Act, which amends the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines to stop smuggling, simplify rules and facilitate trade transaction, among others.

The bill has been merged with seven other measures into SBN 2968, also known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA). The consolidated bill was already sponsored on the Senate floor by Sen. Sonny Angara on September 28.

Under the proposed CMTA, relief consignment, or goods such as food, medicine, equipment and materials for shelter, donated or leased to government institutions for free distribution to or use of victims of calamities, shall be exempt from duties and taxes.

"We are removing the tax on donated goods because compassion should not be taxed," Escudero explained. "Bakit mo bubuwisan ang malasakit? Bakit mo kailangan tumubo sa tulong?"

The proposed legislation also provides that upon declaration of a state of emergency, the release of relief consignment shall be a matter of priority and is subject to simplified procedure at the Bureau of Customs.

"So we're cutting the red tape when it comes to disaster relief from abroad and replacing it with a red carpet and a welcome sign. This is a law which effectively stamps a 'Do not delay. Urgent delivery' notice on every incoming cargo meant for disaster victims," Escudero said.

The senator lamented what he called "tortuous process" of securing the release of donated goods, especially those from abroad.

As provided in the Customs guidelines for international donations acquiring tax exemption during calamities, if the donated imported goods are regulated imports, the consignee must first acquire an import permit or clearance from the relevant Philippine government agency that regulates the importation of the particular goods.

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