Books should be made more accessible, not taxed.
The Bureau of Customs' (BOC) decision to impose taxes on imported books may help the government reach its revenue targets, but it would deprive the public of their right to acquire information from these educational materials, Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today said.
Gordon said that the reported imposition of taxes on imported books hinders the flow of knowledge and ideas by making these educational materials less accessible to the people.
"Books and other informational and learning materials should be affordable, available and accessible to as many people as possible," he said.
"We must not limit the educational opportunities available to our people. Books, in whatever genre, are essential tools for knowledge. They should be made affordable so that more individuals can avail of them and can access the information contained in these materials," he added.
Gordon explained that books cannot be made affordable, available and accessible if unnecessary taxes are imposed on imported reading materials. He noted that there have been reports that for the past two months, virtually no imported books entered the country because of the BOC's new policy.
The Philippines is a signatory to the 1950 Florence Agreement, a United Nations treaty that mandates the tax-free importation of books in order to facilitate the free flow of educational, scientific, and cultural materials.
"If we allow this policy of the BOC to continue, book importers would reconsider future importations due to higher importation costs. Sooner or later, foreign books will become more and more expensive or even completely unavailable in local bookstores," Gordon said.
"The government should take an active stance on this issue and perhaps follow the example of Malaysia, which not only cuts book importation costs but even allows its citizens to deduct book purchase costs from their income tax," he added.