PPE now subject to import taxes with Bayanihan law expiry – Customs

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 29) – Imported protective gear such as masks and coveralls as well as medical tools used for the local COVID-19 response will be subject to taxes again, the Bureau of Customs said over the weekend.

Personal protective equipment and other medical emergency supplies for COVID-19 response will be subject to import duties with the expiration of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Republic Act 11469 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in March declared a national emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak and allowed the fast-tracking of procurement of these medical items in the "most expeditious manner." The same law likewise allowed the agency to exempt PPE like gloves, goggles and face shields, as well as laboratory and surgical equipment, alcohol, sanitizers, thermometers, soap, and COVID-19 test kits from import duties, taxes, and fees during the three-month validity of the measure. It expired on June 24.

Imports of these medical equipment have also been allowed to pass through ports without presenting registration papers from the Food and Drug Administration to fast-track processing and deployment. Meanwhile, imported health products for donation are also allowed to proceed without clearance.

"Following the expiration of the said guidelines, the public is advised to pay the required duties and taxes for imports of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical emergency supplies beginning June 25, 2020," Customs said in a June 27 advisory.

There has been a reported global supply shortage of protective gear with most countries stockpiling as them as they grapple with their own COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Executive branch is in talks with lawmakers about possibly calling for a special session of Congress to pass a bill extending the special powers granted to the President for COVID-19 response, which is effectively an extension or revival of the Bayanihan law.