BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez clarified yesterday that online barter for personal transaction is not illegal.
In a statement, he said personal transactions not in the course of trade and business are not covered by registration requirements.
He said that barter is the world’s oldest form of trade and is regulated under Executive Order No. 64, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, in 2018.
He added that the EO stresses that barter trade is only allowed in three areas, namely in Siasi and Jolo in Sulu, and in Bongao in Tawi-Tawi. Outside of those areas, barter trading across borders is not allowed.
“This is what I meant as illegal—those done in other areas or if done online and cross border, or as a regular business in the course of trade—as these are not registered and not taxed,” he pointed out.
For local barter trade, while there is no clear prohibition, these are still subject to regulation and must be registered, he said.
“The Department of Trade and Industry emphasizes that this is subject to tax if it is being done in the course of regular trade or business. This is also applicable for online transactions,” he said.
Local barter trade activities with less than P3 million in gross sales per year may avail of value-added tax exemption, he added.
Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya had sent a letter to the DTI chief asking for clarification and to appeal for reconsideration of Lopez’s earlier statement that tagged online bartering as illegal or prohibited under the law.
“The revival of this major and significant form of commercial exchange started in Bacolod City and eventually spread throughout the Philippines. Due to budget constraints caused by lockdown and economic stalemate, many have now resorted to exchanging goods and services instead without money involved,” he said.
He added that upholding the legality of online bartering will further promote rural and value chain development which will propel the barter system to continue to thrive and evolve as a living tradition until the present day.
Earlier, former Bacolod City councilor Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, who started the Bacolod Barter Community Facebook page in May, said there is no clear and specific legal basis for online barter platforms to be declared unlawful or illegal.
She added that many Filipinos have relied on bartering to acquire food and goods during the Covid-19 lockdown.*