MANILA — BUHAY Party-list Representative Lito Atienza over the weekend appealed to Customs Commissioner Bert Lina not to prevent the simple joys of our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) working abroad and sending to their loved ones some goodies in their balikbayan boxes.
“We owe our hardworking and productive countrymen a lot of gratitude for their hard-earned taxes and remittances that are keeping the Philippine economy afloat. They should be accorded privileges and support — not the usual Customs harassment and razzle dazzle,” Atienza said.
Atienza has been batting for welfare measures and giving the red-carpet welcome for the country’s OFWs returning home for a vacation or for good.
“Surely the new Lina doctrine on opening up our OFWs’ balikbayan boxes sent to their families is no way to treat them, considering that we refer to them as our modern-day heroes,” he added.
The veteran solon pointed out that this would only open up a lot of opportunities for petty corruption.
Lina had earlier announced that the BOC may impose tougher measures on balikbayan boxes, including additional taxes, citing that their spot checks from several warehouses have shown that people are sending items which can be used for commercial purposes as well as their value going over the allowed limit.
“This is further proof of the insensitivity that this administration has consistently shown. Over the years we have been hearing horror stories about the indignities and pilferage of goods that our OFWs have been undergoing at the hands of some corrupt people at the airport whenever they come home. They have even been robbed by criminal elements on their way home from the airport on the streets of Metro Manila. Now we are going to legalize this thievery? God knows what would happen if we allow Customs to open their balikbayan boxes. Why not use the latest technology to screen these boxes to detect any prohibited items? Do not open them and do not burden them with higher taxes,” Atienza said.
He admonished Lina, adding that, “Dapat hulihin ang mga big-time smugglers and drug dealers. Alam ng gobyerno kung sino-sino sila. Don’t oppress our OFWs who are our modern-day heroes. Mahuhuli din naman ang ilang gumagawa ng mali pero hindi dapat madamay ang karamihan with your so-called good intentions ” Atienza said.