Customs to DOH: Pay taxes, we’ll release anti-HIV drugs

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The Bureau of Customs (BOC) stood firm on Thursday that the almost 1,000 boxes of anti-retroviral drugs for people carrying the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) would only be released if the Department of Health (DOH) submitted required documents and paid duties and taxes on imported products.

If the DOH complied, it could have the drugs after only “several hours,” BOC spokeswoman Charo Logarta said.

She added that there is no exemption to paying taxes on the imported products even if the transaction was made through two government agencies.

“We will make sure [the drugs]will be cleared. This is a normal thing. We don’t want to give special treatment because it is a government agency [that is a party to the transaction],” Logarta said, referring to the DOH.


At 1 p.m. on Wednesday, she added, the DOH filed the documents with  the BOC so that the anti-retroviral drugs for HIV victims will be released.

The drugs have been held by Customs for about a month, Logarta said.

The DOH was set to pay importation taxes of over P5 million on Thursday, she added.

If the medicines had expired, Logarta said, it is the DOH, not the Customs bureau, that will be answerable to it.

BOC Commissioner John Philip Sevilla explained that the general rule states that the drugs will not be released unless importers filed the necessary documents and paid the necessary taxes.

Recently, a group of people with HIV expressed worry over a possible shortage of anti-retroviral drugs if the shipments are not released this week.

Dr. Rosanna Ditangco, AIDS research head of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, said current supply would last until only this week if the drug inventory at present is not augmented.

The DOH also on Wednesday said it is pushing for immediate release of the anti-retroviral drugs, which were procured by the department through the Unicef and are to be released in three batches.

“Let me underscore that the Department of Health looks into the welfare of People Living with HIV [PLHIV], together with other HIV advocates and supporters,” DOH Secretary Enrique Ona said.

WITH REPORT FROM MARIS LALOG

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5 Comments

  1. Please have BOC look up their own laws, these aren’t for profit supplies:

    REPUBLIC ACT NO. 1937

    AN ACT TO REVISE AND CODIFY THE TARIFF AND CUSTOMS LAWS OF THE PHILIPPINES

    Sec. 105. Conditionally Free Importations. — The following articles shall be exempt from the payment of import duties upon compliance with the formalities prescribed in, or with the regulations which shall be promulgated by the Commissioner of Customs with the approval of the department head:

    v. Food, clothing, house-building and sanitary-construction materials, and MEDICAL, surgical and other supplies for use in EMERGENCY RELIEF WORK, when imported by or directly for the account of any victim, sufferer, refugee, survivor or any other person affected thereby, or by or for the account of any relief organization, NOT OPERATED FOR PROFIT, FOR DISTRIBUTION AMONG THE DISTRESSED INDIVIDUALS, whenever the President shall, by proclamation, declare an emergency to exist by reason of a state of war, PESTILENCE, cholera, plague, famine, drought, typhoon, earthquake, fire, flood and similar conditions: Provided, That the importation free of duty of articles described in this herein subsection shall continue only during the existence of such emergency, or within such limits and subject to such conditions as the President may, by his proclamation, deem necessary to meet the emergency.

    Criteria:
    Is DOH for Profit? No
    Is HIV a An Emergency? Yes
    Are PLHIV, Distressed Individuals? Yes
    Are ARV’s Medical Supplies? Yes

  2. Teka teka. HOLD THE F*CK UP. Paano nga ba nagkakaroon ng HIV?

    According to Wikipedia:

    ” The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a lentivirus (a subgroup of retrovirus) that causes the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive. Without treatment, average survival time after infection with HIV is estimated to be 9 to 11 years, depending on the HIV subtype. Infection with HIV occurs by the transfer of blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-ejaculate, or breast milk. Within these bodily fluids, HIV is present as both free virus particles and virus within infected immune cells. ”

    In this case, the only eligible patients to have that vaccine that the BOC is definitely holding the F*ck up would be the ones infected via BREAST MILK, which would be toddlers or infants (Adults infected VIA Breast milk still counts within/as SEXUAL INTERCOURSE ), which I HIGHLY DOUBT is the case for MOST people who have them, specifically here in the Philippines. HIV is acquired through unprotected SEXUAL INTERCOURSE (A.K.A. Tawag ng LAMAN) So kayong mga nagra-RANT at NAGAGALIT, matanong ko lang, ANO PO ANG PINAGLALABAN NYO? Eh ung simpleng GUMAMIT na lang ng PROTEKSYON bago mag-talik hindi pa magawa eh. Para dun sa mga magsasabing “Hindi lang naman sa sex nakukuha ang HIV” OO, may point ka. Pero may karapatan ka lang barahin ako kung ikaw meron kang HIV/AIDS nang hindi ka gumagawa ng kahit anong “sexual” na activity. Otherwise, manahimik kayo mga tigang na walang disiplina. #reapwhatyousow

  3. I wonder why the bureau of customs brags about taxing commodities that are vital for the DOH effort to alleviate the suffering of people with aids while it is a well know fact the billions are lost to dirty dealing at the ports. Hypocrites.

    • come on? isn’t it obvious/ government agency to government – ZERO pocketable payola….dirty dealing – +++ undeclared income for eveyrone!!!

  4. Does Ms. Charo Logarta and the Customs Commissioner know what will be the effect of this stupid idea that they are saying….pera pera na lang ba talaga?? wala na ba silang conscience?? Sana magkaroon sila or mahal nila sa buhay ng HIV tapos wala ng maibigay na gamot or maiinom dahil sa kagagawan ng mga taga customs…para malaman nila ang pakiramdam?? Can’t the PNOY do something about this matter?? or do anyone from the government give a rightful advise to this people??