The Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) condemned the Tariff Commission (TC) for failing to protect the public interest after deciding last March 15, 2002 to recommend the non-imposition of safeguards on imported cement. The decision comes at a time when workers are reeling from massive retrenchments and the government is loosing millions of pesos in revenues from the cement importers. Despite huge profits, the four biggest importers (TCC Cement Corp., Cohaco Trading, Batumbakal Trading, and NGC Land Corp.) paid only a dismal sum of P951,433 taxes to the government in 2000.
The local cement manufacturers suffered staggering net losses of P5 billion in 1999 and P7.5 billion in 2000. Worse, for the first two months of 2002, a total of 8,000 workers have lost their jobs and will continuously affect about 24,000 more if the government continues not to heed the call of the local cement sectors. The APL asked the DTI to exert all efforts to ensure that the Trade and Related Matters Committee of the Cabinet decide in favor of imposing tariff protection to the local cement industry on the condition that the job security of cement industry workers are solidly guaranteed.
The intensifying and unregulated dumping of imported cement and other foreign products in the Philippines was the result of our continued adherence to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) ‘free market policy.’ However, since the advanced countries dominate the world market, countries from the Global South like the Philippines would certainly not benefit from the trade liberalization regime that the WTO espouses. Thus, the APL is asking the government to call for a public review of the country’s position on the WTO on the basis of its effectiveness in addressing poverty alleviation and promotion of sustainable development.