Court bars ruling on bid to hike cement tariff

Court bars ruling on bid to hike cement tariff
Published: 11 July 2005

The Philippine Supreme Court has barred the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Tariff Commission from resolving the petition of local cement manufacturers for the extension of safeguard measures.  In resolution dated July 5, 2005, the Supreme Court ordered the two government offices to maintain the status quo pending the resolution of another case involving safeguard measures on imported cement.  
 
Last year, the high tribunal voided the provisional safeguard duty of P20.60 per 40-kilogram bag imposed since Nov. 7, 2001 on gray Portland cement imports after Southern Cross Cement Corp. assailed the measure.   The government appealed the decision and the case is still pending before the high tribunal.  
 
"Prudential considerations warrant the deferral of action on the petition for extension of safeguard measures now pending with the DTI and the Tariff Commission, until such time that the instant case is resolved with finality by this Court," the court en banc said.  
 
"....There is a need to enjoin all the parties from taking any further action relative to the above-referenced petition for extension of safeguard measures during the pendency of the motions for reconsideration, or until such time as may be deemed suitable by this court."  
The Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CMAP) has sought the extension of the safeguard measures with the DTI, claiming a surge in the importation of gray Portland cement is hurting the local cement market.  
 
Southern Cross - the target of the safeguard duty - alleged that the DTI had referred the CMAP’s request to the Tariff Commission despite the court’s voiding of the safeguard duty.  The Tariff Commission, meanwhile, conducted a probe, arguing that there was no order that prohibited them from acting on the petition.  The Commission, however, has withheld the findings as it might conflict with the court’s ruling.