P1 M fine, 12 year jail time await gov’t men pilfering balikbayan boxes
Senator Ralph Recto on Sunday has pushed for higher penalties against government officials and employees who will pilfer balikbayan boxes of overseas Filipino workers or even try to extort money for the release of shipped cargo.
Recto said that through the proposed Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), a penalty of six years to 12 years imprisonment and a fine of P500,000 to P1 million await those who will be found guilty of pilferage and extortion in exchange of the release of balikbayan boxes.
Aside from the said penalties, those who will be found guilty of the said offenses will be perpetually disqualified from holding public office, have their benefits forfeited, and barred from participating in any election.
“Kung dati, isang taon lang ang minimum jail time kapag nangotong o nagnakaw ka sa mga balikbayan boxes ng OFWs, ngayon minimum of six years na and maximum of 12 years. And before, the maximum fine is P50,000. Under the CMTA, the minimum is P500,000 and the ceiling is P1,000,000,” Recto said in a statement.
The senator, who is seeking reelection, said that the proposed measure serves as warning against those who will prey on the country’s “modern heroes.”
“The proposed law’s message is clear: If we cannot protect our OFWs and Balikbayans, we have no business to be in government,” the senator said.
Meanwhile, the proposed measure also seeks to increase the tax-exempt value of balikbayan box to P150,000.
The CMTA has recently hurdled the bicameral conference committee and is expected to be signed by President Benigno Aquino III into law soon.
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