Recto asks Customs to amend new balikbayan box rules
MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto urged the Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Wednesday, July 26, to amend its new rules on the shipment of balikbayan boxes, after it drew flak from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
The agency earlier announced new guidelines on sending balikbayan boxes, requiring senders to include purchase receipts for brand new goods and paste a detailed list of the contents on the box.
"If BOC is insisting on a declaration, then instead of plastering the list of contents for everyone to read, can it not be placed inside a sealed envelope and taped on the side of the box instead?" Recto said. "Tapos sulatan 'yung envelope ng (Then write on the envelope): 'To be opened by the Bureau of Customs only.'"
This, Recto said, would be better than requiring a sender to display a list of contents on the side of the box, which would make it vulnerable to theft and pilferage. The lawmaker warned that the BOC's rule to attach a list "is tantamount to providing a keyhole that might tempt unscrupulous handlers to open it and rid it of its contents."
"'Yung mga container vans wala namang nakasulat sa gilid kung ano laman nito, bakit 'yung laman ng balikbayan box gusto ipadetalye ng BOC?" Recto said. (Container vans don't even have a list of contents on the side, why does the BOC want the contents of a balikbayan box detailed?)
Recto also said OFWs will have a hard time including purchase receipts in their cargo.
"'Pag bumili ka ng pantalon at isang martilyo sa supermarket, kasama ng isang cart ng mga groceries, at ang resibo ng pinamili mo ay isang metro ang haba, pati ba ito kailangan mo isama?" the senator asked. (If you buy pants and a hammer from the supermarket, including a whole cart of groceries, and the receipt is a meter long – do you also need to include that?)
"'Pag sinabi mo sa OFWs na humingi ng separate receipt para sa pantalon, maraming mag-a-alburoto diyan," he added. (If you tell OFWs to ask for a separate receipt for pants, many will get mad.)
"And what if you have bought a plantsa (iron) a year ago, and it has remained unused and unopened, how can you comply with the BOC rules if you have already lost the receipt?"
Recto said it's the congressional customs and tariff oversight committee's duty to review if the BOC "committed a bureaucratic overreach" by setting the new guidelines.
Section 800 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) allows OFWs and other Filipinos residing abroad to bring in or send to their families in the Philippines tax-free balikbayan boxes, whose contents are not intended for barter and sale and as long as they are not worth P150,000. (READ: Things to know about balikbayan boxes)
OFWs can avail of this privilege for a maximum of 3 times in a calendar year. – Rappler.com