Manila—The Balikbayan Box Law (BBL) has been included in the consolidated version of the Customs reform bill yesterday.
According to Sen. Ralph Recto, the BBL intends to raise to P150, 000 the tax-exempt value of “pasalubong”cargo brought in or sent by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). The law is now part of the proposed Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).
“I am glad that Senator (Juan Edgardo) Angara included it in his report,” Recto said in an interview with Manila Bulletin. Sen. Angara, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, sponsored the CMTA bill.
Senate Bill No. 2931, dubbed as Balikbayan Box Law was filed by Sen. Recto after the protests towards Bureau of Customs’ order to open and inspect balikbayan boxes.
In the BBL, the “total dutiable value” of the boxes shall not be more than P150, 000 and can only be availed “up to three times in a calendar year.” It is also said in the bill that the articles of the balikbayan box must be “personal and household effects only and shall neither be in commercial quantities, nor intended for barter, sale or for hire.”
“This is to prevent senders from abusing this privilege. With this privilege comes the duty to observe the law. And it also comes with penalties so that smugglers won’t take advantage of it,” Recto said to the Philippine Star.
The tax-exempt ceiling for returning resident who has lived abroad for 10 years who wish to send boxes of “personal and household effects” has also been raised to P350, 000.
Sen. Recto expects the Senate to approve the bill before the end of the year.