As expired relief goods for victims of Typhoon “Yolanda” ended up being destroyed after years of being held up by red tape in ports, Senator Sonny Angara has called for the creation of one-stop-shops under law 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. (It is clear under the law that if the aid is for calamity victims, it should be marked as tax free and do not delay)
Last month, four shipping containers full of donations for survivors of “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.” (The ones that should be destroyed are not the relief goods but the regulations that hamper their release)
“The ones that should be destroyed are not the relief goods but the regulations that hamper their release.”
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, Angara also said.
“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.