Angara bewails burning of ‘Yolanda’ donations, seeks express lane
Senator Sonny Angara is urging the setting up of one-stop shops for relief goods and foreign donations for calamity victims.
Angara made the call as he lamented the burning of relief goods from Europe meant for victims of Typhoon “Yolanda.”
He said the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) mandates the release of calamity aid “without tax and without delay.”
Under the CMTA, “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.
“The law is clear that aid for calamity victims should be marked ‘tax-free’ and ‘do not delay,’” the senator said. Thus, he said, clearance of relief deliveries shall be prioritized and subject to a simplified customs procedure.
The designation necessitates the creation of express lanes for emergency relief, said Angara, who will be seeking reelection in 2019.
The Departments of Finance and Social Welfare have drafted a joint order creating one-stop-shop facilities for relief goods, Angara said.
According to him, the main facility shall be located at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Meanwhile, satellite facilities may be established in ports nearest the areas where calamity strikes.
“The one-stop shop needs to be set up and designated as a go-to office for foreign donations,” Angara said.
He said the office would be made permanent to facilitate and approve aid documents sent to the country.
The senator slammed the burning of four shipping containers of relief goods for survivors of Yolanda after these were held up for five years, resulting in the expiration of the items.
“We should burn the regulations that delay the release of relief goods, not the donations. This should not happen again,” he stressed. /cbb
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