Senator Raffy Tulfo has filed a bill seeking to legalize and regulate the importation of second-hand clothes, bags, shoes and accessories, more popularly known as “ukay-ukay,” noting the proliferation of the underground industry and the failure of government to stop it.

Senate Bill 1778 seeks to repeal Republic Act 4635, or the Act to Safeguard the Health of the People and Maintain the Dignity of the Nation by Declaring it a National Policy to Prohibit the Commercial Importation of Textile Articles Commonly Known as Used Clothing and Rags.”

In filing the bill, Tulfo noted that that there is a need to repeal RA 4635 which was enacted in 1966 because it has been ineffective as ukay-ukay stores mushroomed all over the country, and has now become part of Filipino culture.

“The revenue-generating industry also generates employment. However, it must be regulated by the proper government agencies to ensure its compliance with applicable laws,” he said.

The emergence of the ukay-ukay business started in the early 1980s in Baguio City. Due to the frequency of natural calamities in the country, the Salvation Army distributed imported second hand goods to victims of the calamities as a form of humanitarian assistance.

The said goods were accumulated and bought in bulk by local traders to sell to the public at a cheaper price. The initial customers were low-income population, but due to the popularity and low prices, high-income earners also started to patronize it.

“By legalizing ukay-ukay, the PHP18-bilion industry will no longer be underground enterprise since it will be duly registered and its revenues audited for accountability by the proper government agencies,” Tulfo said.

Under the proposed measure, the Department of Health (DOH) shall determine the health standards and prerequisites for importing and distributing used textile articles commonly known as used clothing and rags; while the Tariff Commission, in consultation with the relevant agencies, shall determine the proper tariff line for such goods.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Customs and the Department of Social Welfare and Development shall determine the disposition of imports of used textiles seized for violations of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act. (PNA)

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