Oh good, the Bureau of Customs has released some official documents detailing their stand on the Great Book Blockade issue. Let’s have a look see:
FAQ’s: Clarificatory Guidelines on Duty-Free Importation of Books: (find it here)
The answer to Q1 (A1) states the laws that govern book importation according to the Bureau. No surprises here, those are the self-same laws we’ve been dealing with since the beginning.
A2 acknowledges the existence of the Florence Agreement and the fact that the Philippines is a signatory. Again, no surprises, which is a good thing since that means the assumptions we’ve been making so far have been based on sound facts.
A3 and A4– here is where the fun begins.
Q3: Is the UNESCO Florence Agreement already incorporated in Section 105(s) of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP) as amended?
Yes. Section 105(s) of the TCCP, as amended, already incorporated the UNESCO Agreement. Notably, the law that introduced the present Section 105(s) is Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1464 issued on 11 June 1978, or later than the adoption or even the signing by the President of the Philippines of the UNESCO Florence Agreement in 1950 and 1952 respectively.
Q4: What is the legal implication of such incorporation by Section 105(s) of the TCCP, as amended, of the UNESCO Florence Agreement?
This means that the importation of educational, scientific and cultural materials listed in Annexes A to E of the Florence Agreement shall be subject to the same condition imposed by Section 105(s) of the TCCP, as amended, i.e. that the imported article shall not be for sale, barter or hire.
Oh Customs, Customs… If that is your central argument, your bedrock, your pillar of legality then I could almost kiss you (if you were a person, or at least a moe anthropomorphism) because (unless I have completely forgotten International Law) you have made this so much easier.
For those who did not go through a compulsory 2 units of Public International Law, the argument of Customs can be summarized in this way: [Best done in a Jon-Stewart-impersonates-George-W-Bush-voice] Yes there’s a Florence Agreement, but see what we did was we put the Florence Agreement into our own municipal law–then we added some, well, conditions before the Agreement can apply, and that amended the Agreement. So, we’re cool right?