The Bureau of Customs is wrong in going after balikbayan boxes

new policy on balikbayan boxes 2015
The Bureau of Customs is wrong in going after balikbayan boxes (Credits: Dale Gozar)

I was an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) for 15 years, having worked in countries such as Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. There are around ten million OFWs, and the so-called balikbayan boxes are symbols of their ubiquity.

Balikbayan boxes are shipped cargo boxes that usually contain personal effects, goods, and gifts or “pasalubongs” sent by OFWs to their relatives and friends back home in the Philippines. It’s a Filipino tradition or culture that enhance, promote, preserve, and maintain a strong family ties through love and caring expressed in gift-giving or mere thoughtfulness.

balikbayan box inspection
The Bureau of Customs wants to inspect all incoming balikbayan boxes from OFWs (Credits: Mark Madrona)

This week, the Bureau of Customs announced that it will soon open and inspect all incoming balikbayan boxes as a way to prevent or to intercept boxes being used to smuggle taxable commercial and illegal goods to our country. I strongly believe that the proposal is wrong, plain and simple. Below are my reasons for saying so:

1. IT MIGHT LEAD TO TEMPTATIONS
We are all familiar with the tendency of some employees in the Philippine Postal Corporation to engage in ‘buriki,’ which is the act of opening sealed packages with the aim of stealing its contents.  Opening balikbayan boxes will expose the hard-earned items sent by OFWs to the same risk.

2. QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES? (Who will guard the guardians?)
How will we know that not a single will be taken away or replaced? How about planting of something that could be used against the sender and/or the receiver?

new policy on balikbayan boxes 2015
The Bureau of Customs is wrong in going after balikbayan boxes (Credits: Dale Gozar)

3. THERE ARE BIGGER FISH TO CATCH
Big-time smuggling of high-value items such as luxury cars, oil and fuel, and even agricultural products cost the government so much more in lost revenues. So, why is the government training its guns on hapless OFWs?

4. IT WILL FURTHER DELAY THE PROCESSING OF PACKAGES

Unreasonable delays in the processing and delivery of cargo boxes has been a nagging problem for families with relatives overseas, especially during the holiday season. This BOC proposal will no doubt cause further delays.

MY SUGGESTIONS

1. OFWs need to be educated about the consequences on our economy of bringing imported taxable commercial and illegal goods.
Government can include this during Pre-Departure Orientation & Seminar (PDOS) and it can also disseminate the information through the media, particularly the Internet.

2. Encourage local business (SM Mall, Robinson Mall, Ayala, San Miguel, et.al.) to create a BALIKBAYAN type shopping gimmick (local goods with or w/out tax) for families of OFW payable via money transfer or loan scheme.

Please like the Facebook page of “The Filipino Scribe”!

Comments

comments

About Mark Madrona 1191 Articles
Mark Madrona is a prize-winning blogger, online journalist, and educator from the Philippines. Previously a book editor, he is now teaching communication subjects for two public universities in Manila. His blog The Filipino Scribe won 3rd place in a blog competition organized by the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP). In 2015, it was one of the finalists in the 2015 Lasallian Scholarum Awards for Best Online Feature Article in Youth and Education. He also won the Best Blog Award during the 2011 Population and Development Media Awards, the youngest recipient of that recognition. Know more about him here: http://www.filipinoscribe.com/about/.

2 Comments on The Bureau of Customs is wrong in going after balikbayan boxes

  1. I stated those scenarios in my FB Account..Do this BOC..know kung ano mga ginagawa namin pagtitipid at pagsisikap para lang may maipadala kami sa pamilya namin..kahit mayat mayat may mangaral samin to save something for us…pero pag gumana ang consencia mo sure kampante na di mabibigyan ng kaligayan ang pamilya mo..Alam kaya niang nag iintay lang ng mga sales ang OFW pra makamura at makadami ng ipapadala sa pilipinas para sa pamilya…in my experience d lang isa o 2 o 3 ang kahon ko pinadadala at yun ng pinakamalaki ha…ung unlimited kilo..alam kaya nilang may nawawala sa bagahe..o nasisira..tapos wala nman action ang forwarders namin dito sa ibang bansa…tapos bubuksan pa nila…panu kung may nawala may magagawa p pa ang ofw…sa time sa gastos…o d ganun dn..at kung mag co complain ka are they going to give an action according to the needs ng may ari ng bagahe…it is very tempting sa mga taong magbubukas nun…bigyan nio naman ng consideration kaming mga ofw na naturingang makabagong bayani…tapos ninanakawan pa nio ng karapatan pra magkarun ng privacy…

  2. Tamang tama po kayo sa #1 pa lang…Kahit sino makakita ng kahit kahon nga lang ng iPhone 6 eh, hindi ka ba matetempt kunin yun? Lalo pa’t marami naman sila sa BOC na mag-iinspect nyan sa dami ng balikbayan box na pinapadala, so maiisip mo eh “hindi naman malalaman nung may-ari kung sino kumuha, at hindi rin nila kami kilala”. Para ka na ring nagbukas ng regalo ng may birthday, pero hindi naman ikaw yung may birthday. Masama nyan, guguluhin pa or nanakawin pa ung mga branded na gamit. Mahirap na ngang mawalay sa pamilya, mahirap din kumita sa ibang bansa (Akala siguro nila eh nakaupo lang mga Pinoy sa ibang bansa at pa-kape kape na lang, eh ang totoo hirap na hirap madalas magovertime ung iba para extra sahod), tapos ganyan pa, papakealaman pa (nanakawin, bababuyin) ung nagdadala ng saya at nagpapawi ng lungkot sa kanila at sa pamilya nila. Iinspeksyunin hindi naman mabalik sa dati, ang masama nyan may bawas pa! Maling mali ung katwiran ni BOC Commissioner Alberto Lina na kung wala namang itatago ung mga OFW eh hindi sila dapat matakot. E di wow naman, pano kang hindi matatakot, kung yung papadala mo sanang laptop o cellphone eh may makakakitang iba tapos mapagiinteresan pa? BOC = Yari ang Padala!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: