There are a lot of videos making rounds on the internet from OFWs voicing out their dismay over the new policy that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) might implement on Balikbayan boxes.
OFW Cris Gob Deyta video posted on social media site is one of them. It has 300,000 views and 30,000 shares as of this writing. Deyta was furious about the taxes that might be imposed on Balikbayan boxes. And the policy that will allow Bureau of Customs (BOC) opening Balikbayan boxes sent to Philippines by OFWs around the world.
The outcry from OFWs began when reports came out from major Philippine media outlets over the weekend. Below was an earlier report from GMA regarding the controversy.
The negative reactions from OFWs from this new BOC policy on Balikbayan boxes was brought also by reported problems in sending hard-earned goods put in a Balikbayan box.
In December 2014, OFWs were already furious about “port congestion” brought by Metro Manila policy imposed on trucking services. Another serious problem also reported in 2013 regarding cargo forwarders that opened or worse hijacked Balikbayan boxes.
BOC’s explanation is that they are looking after those businessmen who use Balikbayan boxes in liaising products. In an interview, BOC chief Alberto Lina in an interview by ABS-CBN also says that they bureau is checking these boxes also to avoid entry “weapons of mass destruction”.
However, OFWs were not buying BOC explanation.
President stops random physical inspection
The continued petition of OFWs with the new BOC policies opted President Aquino to stop random physical inspection on Balikbayan boxes. Instead, Aquino instructed the following:
- There will be no random or arbitrary physical inspection of balikbayan boxes
- All containers of balikbayan boxes should undergo mandatory X-ray and K-9 examination at no cost to the sender or OFW
- Only in cases where there are derogatory findings in the X-ray or K-9 examination that there will be a physical examination
- In the event physical inspection, the bureau will request an overseas welfare administration or Owwa representative or a designative officer of an OFW association to be present with provisions for CCTV monitoring of the inspection areas.