Did Espele Sales really say that novels and reading books are not educational?By now you've probably heard of the hold-up of all imported books at the Bureau of Customs because of a new interpretation of officials such as Department of Finance Undersecretary Espele Sales. Book importers are now being levied duties by customs, which are apparently against international agreements.
Sales and the BOC agreed that “only books or raw materials to be used in book publishing” are to be exempt from taxes and duties.
Critics said their interpretation has violated the 1950 Florence Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials, of which the Philippines was a signatory in 1952.
The treaty has provided for duty-free importation of books to guarantee the free flow of “educational, scientific, and cultural materials” between countries and declared that imported books should be duty-free.
But Sales reportedly brushed off this argument, saying novels and reading books are “not educational.”
The pitfall for Moore is not subjectivity, but accuracy. We expect him to hold an opinion and argue it, but we also require his facts to be correct. I was an admirer of his previous doc, the Oscar-winning "Bowling for Columbine," until I discovered that some of his "facts" were wrong, false or fudged.
In some cases, he was guilty of making a good story better, but in other cases (such as his ambush of Charlton Heston) he was unfair, and in still others (such as the wording on the plaque under the bomber at the Air Force Academy) he was just plain wrong, as anyone can see by going to look at the plaque.
Because I agree with Moore's politics, his inaccuracies pained me, and I wrote about them in my Answer Man column. Moore wrote me that he didn't expect such attacks "from you, of all people." But I cannot ignore flaws simply because I agree with the filmmaker. In hurting his cause, he wounds mine.
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The story so farSeptember 2004