BAGUIO CITY: Representative Nicasio Aliping Jr. will conduct a congressional probe of the Bureau of Custom’s crackdown on “ukay-ukay” (second-hand garments) warehouses in the city.
Although essentially illegal, the proliferation of second- hand garment stores in the city has somewhat earned for it the reputation of being the country’s ukay-ukay capital, thus practically legalizing the industry.
Republic Act 4653 also known as An Act to Safeguard the Health of the People and Maintain the Dignity of Nation by Declaring it a National Policy to Prohibit the Commercial Importation of Textile Articles Commonly Known as Used Clothing and Rags, which has been in effect since 1966, bans the commercial importation of used clothing.
“Those items (second-hand garments) already went through the Bureau of Customs, why still that crackdown” Aliping pointed out.
He vowed to conduct a congressional inquiry to find out what are the BOC’s objectives in conducting the raids and possibly craft a law that would clearly define the ukay-ukay trade.
Aliping was reacting to reports that BOC agents recently seized at least 2,800 bales of used clothing, comforters and other garments amounting to P22 million from at least nine separate warehouse units here.
The BOC said the used clothing is composed of branded apparels from the United States and Canada, entered the country, through locators at the Subic and Clark Freeport zones as well as the Cavite Export Processing Zone in Rosario, Cavite, and initially declared as scrap fabrics intended for manufacture and subsequent re-export as rags.
The BOC targeted the warehouses, not the retailers, because the agency wanted a clampdown on suppliers, not on lowly retailers.
Records from the Baguio City Licensing and Permits Division show some 2,500 registered ukay-ukay stores in the city.
Bargain hunting tourists frequent Baguio’s second hand thrift shops to look for designer clothing and fa- shion accessories.
At least 500 ambulant vendors sell their ware at the Baguio night market along Harrison Road starting nine in the evening till four a.m.
The BOC claims that some locators inside the free port economic zones use their privilege to import raw materials tax-free to smuggle used clothing in the guise of scrap fabric.
These locators then sell the used clothing to dealers who then supply ukay-ukay business owners across the country.
Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan who admits the ukay-ukay trade has brought commerce and revenue to the city, also questioned the propriety of raiding the warehouses here while allowing its entry via the country’s ports.
“It is unfair to our business- men because they are not the importers but retailers only” Domogan said.
Thom F. Picaña