How desperate can our custom officials be to become millionaires, I cannot entirely fathom. How stupid they can get in their bid to corrupt public funds, I cannot entirely imagine.
Their latest stint was the breach of the UN world pact forged in 1950 wherein it was agreed upon that reading and cultural materials would be exempted from import duties. The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is now imposing fees on any shipments of imported books or other cultural materials. Indeed this is alarming and this may well account for the fact that the number of imported books out in the market are limited. And we can feel this deficit in the fact that popular books like the Twilight saga are so hard to obtain.
I applaud (sarcastic) the official or officials who conceived of this idea of imposing fees to imported books, he or she or they haven’t failed to identify a marketable opportunity and cash in on it. I pity the book retailers who have to pay exorbitant fees – both legal and under the table – just to get their shipment of imported books released to them.
Of course such circumstances have its positive and negative effects, as all circumstances are. Stemming the tide of imported books in the market brings to attention local books and boosts the local publishing industry. However, there seems to be more negative consequences than positive ones. For one, this further encourages the proliferation of pirated book copies in the forms of e-books and printed e-books. Of course, I admit that I also have my own collection of e-books. But I still prefer collecting the hard copies of the books over their poorly-typed electronic versions.
Perhaps the most important downside is the fact that all this efforts at imposing fees on imported books for the sake of earning some additional personal dough, makes readers and would-be readers less enthusiastic to read printed literature. All this selfish attempts to increase personal wealth devoid the current and future generation the opportunity to enrich their minds and cultural experiences.
In an age wherein old-fashioned reading has to compete with cyber technology, what the BOC did is indeed an insult to the intellectual privileges of the Filipino people.