MANILA – Fair trade advocates, including several major labor organizations, have again strongly opposed the importation of second-hand vehicles.
This even as the group expressed full support for the passage of House Bill No. 5279, an Act Establishing the Comprehensive Motor Vehicle Development Act, authored by Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III.
The Fair Trade Alliance, an advocacy group supporting local industries, stressed that the consolidation of the bills should retain the provisions of HB 5279 that prohibit the entry and importation of second- hand vehicles. HB 4499 and HB 1517 have no such prohibition.
In a letter to Rep. Albert Garcia, chairman of the Committee on Trade and Industry, four labor federations affiliated with FairTrade said "the entry of second-hand vehicles causes the sales of locally produced vehicles to decrease," resulting in decreased production and fewer workers.
The group also raised environmental and safety concerns and the possibility of smuggling if second-hand vehicles are allowed to enter the country.
FairTrade said the exclusion of the prohibition of imported second-hand vehicles in the consolidated bill will totally negate whatever development incentives are being made available through the bills.
Currently, Executive Order 156 issued by the previous administration bans the importation of second-hand vehicles, but the implementation of the EO has largely been lax, as second-hand and right-hand drive vehicles are still being smuggled into the country.
FairTrade argued that the ban on the importation of second-hand vehicles will not deprive vehicle ownership to those who cannot afford brand new vehicles.
It said there are enough locally-manufactured second-hand vehicles available in the market, with various financing schemes from local banks.
With over P100 billion in investments, the local automotive industry employs about 74,000 workers, which decreased as compared to the 77,000 workers in 2004.
HB 5279, which is now with the House Committee on Trade and Industry, lays down wide-ranging incentives for the automotive manufacturing industry.
This include the provision of "demand side" incentives, such as exploring the possibility of setting up affordable and accessible financing schemes to allow even low-income families to afford vehicles for business, commercial or personal use.
HB 5279 also prohibits the importation of second-hand vehicles, except for certain kinds of motor vehicles used for special purposes, such as fire trucks, ambulances, funeral coaches, crane lorries, among others.
The House Committee on Trade and Industry, during its most recent deliberations, ordered that HB 5279 be consolidated with other pending related bills, including HB 4499 authored by Reps. Rufus Rodriguez and Maximo Rodriguez Jr. and HB 1517.*PNA