MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) released on Wednesday, September 2, its revised rules and regulations on the importation of balikbayan boxes.
Dated August 27, the customs memorandum order (COM) applies to all non-commercial inbound consolidated shipment of overseas Filipino workers and for returning OFWs bringing in personal and household effects as provided under Section 105 (f) of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP), as amended.
Among the operational provisions is that the OFWs balikbayan boxes shall not be subjected to random or arbitrary physical inspection. “Instead they shall undergo mandatory X-ray scanning,” the CMO read.
Mandatory container X-ray scanning shall be conducted at the X-ray Inspection Project (XIP) Designated Examination Area (DEA) for preliminary examination of non-commercial inbound consolidated shipment.
Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina is underfire from OFWs and their families for his “reminder” on balikbayan boxes. The outcry prompted President Benigno Aquino III to stop physical inspections on balikbayan boxes.
The COM takes effect immediately and repeals all existing orders, circulars, memoranda, and other issuances “inconsistent or in conflict with this order,” BOC said.
BOC may also produce and print information, notices, leaflets on the new rules and regulations for the importation of balikbayan boxes “in order to provide OFWs with clear information on the simplified customs procedures prescribed under the order.”
In cases of non-commercial inbound consolidated shipment tagged “suspect” after X-ray scanning, the XIP image analysis inspector shall identify the balikbayan box/es with possible violation and recommend the issuance of an alert order.
“For balikbayan box/es without violation, it shall be segregated and provisionally released to allow its continuous processing,” BOC said.
But in case a balikbayan box is placed under alert, it will be subjected to 100% physical examination at the authorized examination area to be conducted by a customs examiner in the presence of apprehending officers. Freight forwarder consolidator, representatives of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and/or designated officer of an OFW association should also be present.
“For purpose of trade facilitation and to address port congestion, the BOC may allow the 100% examination of alerted shipment under this order to be conducted at the warehouse of the freight forwarder/consolidator upon submission of an affidavit of undertaking to existing customs laws, rules, and regulations.”
The order added that BOC shall also endeavor to acquire K-9 units and install CCTVs in all authorized inspection/examination areas.
“Failure on the part of the responsible customs official or personnel to comply with any of the directives stated in this order shall be dealt in accordance with Section 3604 of the TCCP, as amended, and appropriate civil service rules and regulations,” BOC stated. – Rappler.com