MANILA — OFW Family Party-list Rep. Roy V. Señeres on Saturday expressed strong opposition to the plan of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) to impose taxes and stricter guidelines on Balikbayan boxes sent by Overseas Filipino Workers to their loved ones in the Philippines, saying that the new measures are ‘unreasonable, insensitive, and highly unnecessary’.
The BoC says that starting Oct. 1, 2015 they will implement revised guidelines on the shipment of Balikbayan boxes after it found that some traders were abusing it by way of ‘technical smuggling’ to avoid paying the right taxes.
“Clearly, it is not our OFWs who smuggle goods through these balikbayan boxes. They are the ones who work hard overseas to be able to send the fruits of their labor to their family in the Philippines through these balikbayan boxes,’’ said Señeres.
“Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina should focus on going after the big time smugglers and not our hardworking OFWs who are obviously innocent of this unscrupulous smuggling activity. The Customs should back off and let our OFWs continue to send goods to their loved ones without any hindrance especially since the holiday season is just around the corner,” he added.
Balikbayan boxes, which started in 1980s, are duty and tax-free packages designed for OFWs for sending their ‘pasalubong’ or gifts to their families in the Philippines.
“I will initiate a congressional investigation to look into these new measures by Commissioner Lina and the Bureau of Customs. Balikbayan boxes are a sacred part of the life of an OFW family. Let it be clear that they cannot encroach upon this privilege which our OFW families have been enjoying since the 1980’s. In the meantime, Commissioner Lina, not with the OFWs you don’t,” Señeres said.