Palace defends Lina despite Aquino halt in manual check of balikbayan boxes
DESPITE President Benigno Aquino III’s order to scrap the new policy, Malacañang on Tuesday defended the Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina against critics who decried his proposal to physically inspect balikbayan boxes.
“‘Yung pagpapahayag ni Commissioner Lina, nandoon sa aspeto na paano ba ginagampanan ng Bureau of Customs ang tungkulin nito,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a televised press briefing.
(The statement of Commissioner Lina, that is in the context of the Bureau of Customs doing its job.)
Coloma said it is the BOC’s task to scrutinize goods entering the country to ensure that taxes are being paid.
He appealed to the public not to “distort” the issue when asked if Aquino reprimanded Lina.
However, he also said that the government took into account the feedback from OFWs, many of whom took to Facebook and other social media sites to express their opposition to the proposal.
On Monday, Aquino ordered the BOC not to open up boxes coming from overseas Filipino workers or Filipinos living abroad unless they pose a threat to public safety.
During a roundtable interview at Inquirer, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the President recognized that OFW families “view the balikbayan box as an integral part of the family relationship to nurture loved ones at home and as a tangible sign of their love and concern for their family members.”
Instead, Aquino ordered mandatory x-ray and K-9 examination of balikbayan boxes. Random or arbitrary manual inspection will no longer be implemented. In case of the need to inspect a questionable package, a representative of an OFW organisation or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) should be present.
Coloma denied that the Aquino administration belittles the contribution of OFWs, especially remittances.
“Mismong pamahalaan ang kumikilala sa malaking ambag at kontribusyon ng ating mga manggagawang Pilipino na nagtatrabaho sa ibang bansa. At malaking sakripisyo po ang kanilang ginagawa,” he said.
(The government itself has recognized the huge contribution of our Filipino workers abroad. And it is a huge sacrifice on their part.)
He said the reason why Lina gave such a proposal was not because of the OFWs but because of smugglers.
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