Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Once upon a time, there was an examiner who came to save his office from a 30-billion-peso shortfall and saw Stephenie Meyer's Twilight. He conquered the said 2008 bestselling novel by classifying it not as “educational” as textbooks so its importer must pay taxes. His boss, an Undersecretary, seconded his motion via a Memorandum on Clarificatory Guidelines on Duty Free Importation of Books. A Secretary issued the Department Order 17-09 based on it. Publishers, authors, distributors, book sellers and other stakeholders, right from the start, knew that under the present state of the law affecting the importation of books, the Department of Finance has not been given any authority at all to disapprove, once the importation of books has been given a go signal, so to speak, by the National Book Development Board. They are one – as Book Development Association of the Philippines – reminding them about the Republic Act No. 8047 or the Book Publishing Industry Development Act, which created the National Book Development Board (NBDB) is the latest law that directly governs the importation of books into the country. BDAP pointed out that “it is erroneous to conclude that the imported books should be used for book publishing, equating it to a raw material. This is an absurd misreading of the law. Once a book is released to the public, it is already deemed published. How then can a published book be used for book publishing? The DOF seems to equate “Book Printing” with “Book Publishing”. This is a major misapprehension which is quite far from the true intent of RA 8047 as envisioned by its authors.”
In the Explanatory Note of Senate Bill No. 252 by then Senator Edgardo Angara in his sponsorship speech on 16 November 1992, he was quoted as saying “…While imported books are tax and duty free, following the Florence Agreement on the Free Flow of Information, imported paper to be used in the production of the same books are heavily taxed. The country imports finished books tax-free...” The word “books” as provided under RA 8047 “refers to any and all types and kinds of books, not only to those that are for “economic, technical, vocational, scientific, philosophical, historical, and cultural books and/or publications” as the questioned Department Order No. 17-09 would like everyone to believe. According to BDAP, this conclusion is amply supported by the Florence Agreement, of which our country has been a signatory since 1952, and which was taken into account when RA 8047 was being deliberated on until fully enacted into law. One of the primary duties of the NBDB is to require and accept the registration of entities engaged in book publishing and its related activities. Section 3 (g) of RA 8047 stated that book publishing is the process of choosing and making books…” BDAP stated, the terms “book publishing” would apparently connote simply “printing” or “production” however, publishing encompasses more than just simply printing and production so it is an activity intended to disseminate information to the public. Therefore, the importation of a book, of whatever nature, is an activity intended to disseminate the information contained therein to the public.
Again, that under the Florence Agreement, contracting states have the right to take measures to prohibit or limit the importation of the tax and duty free books. “But the limitations,” BDAP stressed, “pertain directly to national security, public order or public morals and loss of revenue is not a valid ground to limit the importation of the matters stated under the Florence Agreement.”
Its president Lirio Sandoval concludes by citing the BDAP Position Paper: “If revenue collection, efficiency and consistency are the avowed goals of the DOF, then there is all the more reason that only one agency that should govern the importation of books into the country. The same agency that has been tasked by law to uphold the goals of the National Book Development Act. This agency is the National Book Development Board. The NBDB as such shall be the one to issue certifications as to the importation of books of whatever nature and type. Hence, the importer need only secure the necessary papers from the NBDB in order to validly import the books into the country, without anymore stating the nature or type of the books being imported, or under which law it is being imported. Accordingly also, the imported need not state the fact that the books are being imported for purpose of eventual sale, because RA 8047 encompasses all types and nature of books and does not discriminate as to the purpose of the importation. Neither does the importer have to state that fact the imported books will be used as raw materials for book publication, because this is quite absurd and illogical. Such are the ramifications of the enactment of RA 8047.”
In the meantime, NBDB – after its successful Academic Publishing Conference at the University of the Philippines Baguio last month – is inviting us to NBDB Book Club's May Meeting at the Ortigas Library. Prize-winning screenwriter Ricky Lee will be joining the NBDB Book Club’s discussion of his runaway bestseller Para Kay B on May 30, 2-4 p.m., at Ortigas Foundation Library. Selling more than 10,000 copies since its launch in November last year, Lee’s first novel contains five interrelated stories illustrating and deconstructing the many convolutions of love. Everyone who’s read the book is invited to attend this intimate one-on-one with the author and discuss why 4 out of 5 of us are destined to be devastated by love. Para Kay B is available in major book stores for P250.
Add to that, NBDB is calling for nominations to the National Book Award in cooperation with the Manila Critics Circle.
What they would only accept are books copyrighted and published in the Philippines in the calendar year immediately preceding the year the award is given is eligible for the award. If it was copyrighted in an earlier year but was launched only during the previous year, a book may be nominated provided it was not considered for the award during the year of its copyright.
Except for books authored by members of the MCC and the Board of Judges, there are no restrictions as regards authorship; authors may be Filipinos or non-Filipinos, individuals or groups, dead or alive. Books published earlier or in the same year outside the country but published independently by a Philippine publisher are eligible.
If you are qualified, please send your book or books to theThe Accreditation and Incentives Division at the NBDB Office, 2/F National Printing Office Building, EDSA corner NIA Northside Road, Diliman, Quezon City 1100.
The deadline for submissions is at 1pm of May 29, 2009.
And if you win, except as a Publisher of the Year, you will receive a cash prize of Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P15,000.00), which will be awarded to the author or book designer, as the case may be, and not to the publisher. Citations do not win a cash prize.
TEACHER: What does your father do?
BOY: He is a magician.
TEACHER: What tricks can he do?
BOY: He cuts people in half. As a matter of fact, I have two half brothers and two half sisters.
1. Do the right thing!
2. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
3. God heals everything.
4. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
5. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
6. The best is yet to come.
7. When you awake alive in the morning, thank God for it.
8. Your Innermost self is always happy. So, try to be happy.

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