X-ray check on ‘balikbayan’ boxes sought
LEGISLATORS are considering remedial legislation that would subject “balikbayan boxes” to X-ray inspection following the discovery that “hot cars and big bikes” were able to enter the country tax-free through this door-to-door route.
At a hearing at the House of Representatives on car smuggling, a luxury vehicle dealer, Lynard Allan Bigcas, admitted to having dismantled big bikes and sent the parts in balikbayan boxes door-to-door, thereby avoiding the payment of customs duties.
“That is illegal. You cannot dismantle a motor vehicle then ship it to the country in balikbayan boxes. You have to declare it as a motor vehicle and ship it to the country. No wonder the [Bureau of Customs] has no record of this,” said Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas whose subcommittee on customs, tariff and related laws conducted the hearings early this week.
“There should be rigorous examination and investigation by the personnel of the BoC of these shipments notwithstanding that they are door-to-door shipments,” said Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga.
Balikbayan boxes are not scanned by the customs bureau’s X-ray machines because these are categorized as consolidated shipments, said Lourdes Mangaoang, head of the BOC’s X-ray inspection project (XIP).
As such, these shipments are filed under the BOC’s informal entry division, which is not yet covered by the electronic selectivity system, she said.
But Mangaoang said nothing in the country’s present laws prohibiting the scanning of balikbayan boxes. Cynthia D. Balana