MANILA — In a Philippine Daily Inquirer report released Monday night, President Benigno Aquino III gave written instructions to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) regarding the physical inspection of balikbayan boxes from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima shared the President’s instructions in an interview with the INQUIRER, saying that the BOC should “establish a more defined protocol” when it comes to thwarting smugglers who are allegedly using balikbayan boxes to sneak commercial goods into the country.
Aquino gave the following orders to the BOC:
- No random physical inspection of balikbayan boxes;
- Use x-rays and K9 units to scan and inspect all balikbayan boxes;
- OFWs sending balikbayan boxes will not shoulder inspection costs;
- A more thorough, physical inspection is only needed if any suspicious content is identified after scanning the box;
- An Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) representative must be present during the actual physical inspection of said box/es.
The President’s order encourages everyone with proof of any mishandling or theft of balikbayan boxes and its contents to present said pieces of evidence to Customs Commissioner Alberto ‘Bert’ Lina.