MANILA — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) said that they are not after the pasalubong of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) but the smugglers who are reportedly using balikbayan boxes to ship illegal items to the country.
“We are not after the OFWs or their pasalubong to families. We are after the smugglers who have resorted to using the balikbayan boxes and consolidated shipments to smuggle contraband in the country through fake consignees or insertion of smuggled boxes or goods, otherwise known as riders, in consolidated shipments,” said Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina in a statement.
At the same time, he clarified that they are not imposing taxes on the balikbayan boxes. “To our overseas Filipino workers, the Bureau of Customs is not increasing taxes on the balikbayan boxes nor do we want to impede in existing processes. No such statement on tax increase has been made,” the BOC chief said.
Lina added, “Stricter compliance is necessary because the rules on consolidated shipments have been abused. Hindi Customs ang nagbabalak abusuhin ang mga OFWs. Ang gusto namin sa Customs ay matigil na ang pang-aabuso sa sistema na dulot ng smugglers.”
He noted that the government and industries have suffered loses to these illegal activities.
“The bureau has paid greatly in revenue losses through these smuggling activities, and more importantly, the affected industries,” Lina said.
With this, he added that they will continue to implement existing rules, noting the bureau is not equipped to check on incoming baggages.
“Existing rules on the balikbayan boxes still apply, including inspection as stipulated in the law. However, as mentioned before, the bureau is not technologically equipped to inspect all incoming boxes as efficiently as we want. Alternatively, spot checks has been and will continue to be conducted,” Lina said.
He also called on the public to report to the bureau if they found that items from their balikbayan boxes are missing. “If you have or will experience receiving severely tampered and/or missing items from your box, then let us know so we can properly help you,” the BOC chief added.