Saying the Philippine Supreme Court (SC) decision to nullify safeguard tariffs on imported cement undermined the government’s role in ensuring a "level playing field", the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) yesterday said it would launch a legal effort to have the ruling overturned. Trade Sec. Cesar AV Purisima told reporters a legal team will review the SC decision. "We definitely will exhaust all legal avenues to appeal the decision," Mr. Purisima said following a similar statement by the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines. He said the ruling was a "blow to our ability to implement our policies."
Siding with Japanese cement importer Southern Cross Cement Corp., the Supreme Court ruled that then Trade Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II overstepped his authority by imposing a definitive P20.60 safeguard duty for every 40kg bag of imported cement in June last year despite the Tariff Commission’s finding that it was not necessary. The measure was retroactive to December 2001 when temporary duties were imposed.
Mr. Purisima rushed to his predecessor’s defense, saying "I believe that at the time then Secretary Manuel Roxas made the decision, the cement industry needed protection. Local cement manufacturers have been losing market share due to the surge in imports and were laying off workers in the process. Public interest was at stake."