Senate probe of new rules on ‘balikbayan’ boxes sought
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto is pushing for an inquiry into the new Bureau of Customs (BOC) rule on the shipment of balikbayan boxes, warning that it might create a new form of red tape and encourage tampering.
Recto on Tuesday said the congressional customs and tariff oversight committee must be activated and convened as this was the “right group” to investigate if the new rules were excessive.
“We should review it because balikbayan boxes will be wrapped in red tape [if the requirements are complicated],” said Recto.
Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon earlier announced that cargo forwarding companies would have to provide the bureau copies of the list of items in every balikbayan box sent by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) beginning October this year.
The new requirement was included in the bureau’s Guidelines on the Implementation of Customs Administrative Order No. 05-2016 on the Consolidated Shipment of Duty and Tax-Free Balikbayan Boxes.
Recto said he shared the concerns of many OFWs that attaching the list of contents of their packages might tempt shady handlers to run off with its contents.
“Many OFWs think that listing the contents is like telling these people ‘take me I’m yours,” he said.
The senator added that while he recognized the right of the BOC to impose regulations to prevent smugglers from abusing duty-free balikbayan privileges, such should not cause OFWs inconvenience.
“Unneeded and frivolous requirements that will burden OFWs should be excluded as well as rules that will increase the vulnerability of balikbayan boxes being tampered with,” said Recto.