Monday, May 25, 2009

Customs Duty On Books: A Portent Of Things To Come?

Here's an article from The Philippine Daily Inquirer, "Customs Duty On Books: A Portent Of Things To Come?", written by Geraldine Po. An excerpt:

In the early 1970s, it was the postal authorities who checked on book parcels and decided how much tax was to be paid. In effect, they also decided what would and what would not reach the bookstore shelves.

The Philippines Daily Express, in its editorial on June 30, 1972, noted:

“If the postal authorities would in fact insist on playing a role as guardian of the mind, or arbiter of taste in reading material, and as a nemesis of subversion, they should first prove that they are capable of understanding and appreciating the nature and impact of ideas, such ideas as are to be discovered in the very books it had already consigned to limbo.

“From the evidence, neither the postmaster general, nor his alleged committee of arbiters, is ready for the task of passing judgment on reading material coming through the mails. Indeed, it would take more than just a group of scholars to make censorship palatable, and even then they will have to be scholars who have had a lifetime of intimacy with reading, with books, with ideas. And who among this rare breed would lend themselves to censorship?”

The editorial came out a few months before martial law was declared. I hope that the DoF order is not a portent of things to come.

Though the duties have been lifted, we should make sure implementation is done properly, and keep our eyes and ears peeled.

Here's a link to a post: The Great Book Blockade of...1959.

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