De Lima tells Customs: Inspect balikbayan boxes with care | Inquirer News

De Lima tells Customs: Inspect balikbayan boxes with care

/ 03:01 PM August 24, 2015

While the Bureau of Customs (BoC) has the authority to inspect imported packages, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Monday said authorities must be circumspect so as not to inconvenience the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

“As the guardians of the country’s trading gates, the BoC has the power to inspect and apprehend contraband or illegal and prohibited goods upon their entry in Philippine ports. Thus, the discretion largely rests upon them and the DoF (Department of Finance) under Secretary Cesar Purisima,” de Lima said in a text message.

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The BOC has decided to clamp down on balikbayan boxes on suspicion that these were being used as a smuggling channel.

De Lima also said the BOC should explain the sudden change in circumstances that led to the new Customs policy, “otherwise the same may appear arbitrary in light of the accustomed minimal inspection the OFWs have already been used to.”

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The DoF and the BoC, De Lima said, “should be circumspect so as not to antagonize the feelings of our OFW countrymen and their families.”

De Lima said the BoC should explore other options to inspect the balikbayan boxes such as random openings or subjecting the packages to xray examination.

The BoC over the weekend said stricter compliance to the law was necessary because the provisions on consolidated shipments have been abused.

But De Lima said “there are practical ways to approach this matter and achieving any objectives the BoC wants without subjecting our countrymen to further inconvenience.”

The BoC estimates that an average of 1,000 containers of balikbayan boxes (400 boxes per container) arrive each month in Philippine ports. It has estimated that the government has been losing P50 million a month, or P600 million, a year. AU

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TAGS: balikbayan boxes, Bureau of Customs (BoC), Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)
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