Press Release
November 7, 2018


As more relief goods for calamity victims end up burned after years of being held up by red tape in ports, Senator Sonny Angara has called for the creation of one-stop-shops under a law that was meant to rush the release of foreign aid.

Angara said Republic Act 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), which he sponsored, sought the release of calamity aid "without tax and without delay" and, in effect, spells out the establishment of express lanes for emergency relief.

"Malinaw sa batas na kapag tulong para sa mga biktima ng kalamidad, ito ay may tatak na 'tax-free' at 'do not delay,'" the lawmaker said.

Just last month, four shipping containers full of donations for survivors of Supertyphoon "Yolanda" in northern Cebu in 2013 had to be destroyed after the items had already expired.

Lamenting the burning of relief goods almost five years after they have arrived, Angara said, "Ang dapat sunugin ay hindi ang relief goods kundi ang mga regulations na nagpapatagal sa pag-release nito. Hindi na ito dapat maulit."

Angara also sponsored Senate Bill 1596 which seeks to declare November 8 as a special non-working public holiday in Eastern Visayas to be known as "Typhoon Yolanda Resiliency Day."

The CMTA, which was enacted in May 2016, devoted two sections on how "food, medicine, equipment, shelter materials donated or leased to the government for free distribution to or use by calamity victims" shall be exempt from duties and taxes.

Moreover, clearance of relief consignment shall be a matter of priority and subject to a simplified customs procedure.

To implement such provisions, the Department of Finance and the Department of Social Welfare and Development have issued a draft joint department order for the creation of a one-stop-shop facility for relief consignment.

The main one-stop-shop facility shall be located at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, while satellite facilities may also be established in the port nearest the area where the calamity occurred.

"Kailangan maitayo na ang mga one-stop-shop para may designated go-to office para sa mga foreign donations. Year-round ang pagdating ng kalamidad sa ating bansa kaya maigi na permanente din ang opisinang mag-aayos at mag-aapruba ng mga papeles ng mga tulong na pinadala mula sa ibang bansa," Angara said.

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