The following letter appeared as a full-page ad in the print edition of The Philippine Star today, and is reproduced here verbatim:
OPEN LETTER TO HER EXCELLENCY PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO
Dear Madame President,
We, the members of different Book Associations in the counry are appealing for your help in withdrawing the Department of Finance Order 17-09 which imposes duty on the importation of books.
We believe that said Order is not to the best interest of the country. It violates the Florence Agreement, an international treaty. It also violates R.A. 8047 or the Book Publishing Industry Development Act.
The imposition of duty on book importations, no matter how minimal, will increase the cost to our readers, whic in turn will fundamentally affet the quality of education, literacy and over-all access to information and knowledge. Our young need to be educated and become literate to a high degree to be competitive in the emerging world market. This requires world-class and world-wide access to information and knowledge through books.
The Florence Agreement, of which the Philippines is a signatory since 1952, has for its main objectives the free flow of information among contracting states. The Florence Agreement Guide also expressly states that “Under the Agreement, books, newspapers, periodicals, and many other categories of printed matter are granted duty-free entry”.
The Book Publishing Industry Development Act has also expressly provided in Section 12 for the tax-and-duty free importation of books and raw materials for book publishing. However, the DOF has chosen to interpret this provision to mean that only books used for book publishing are duty free. We certainly disagree. This Section 12 really refers to both importation of books and importation of raw materials such as paper and machinery needed and used for book publishing.
Madame President, we are joining writers, authors and readers in the clamor for the continued duty-free importation of books. Please help us and our countrymen.
(Sgd.) LIRIO P. SANDOVAL
Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP)
(Sgd.) ATTY. JOSE AGATON SIBAL
Philippine Educational Publishers’ Association (PEPA)
(Sgd.) JENNIFER G. JAVIER
Publishers Representatives’ Organization of the Philippines (PROP)
(Sgd.) LINO DAGUS
Assocation of Booksellers for the Academe & Professions
(Sgd.) JOSE PAOLO M. SIBAL
Philippine Booksellers Association, Inc. (PBAI)
(Sgd.) RUBEN DE JESUS
Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY)