MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs said on on Wednesday, December 7, it had filed criminal cases against the forwarding companies which allegedly abandoned around 7,000 balikbayan box deliveries.
In November, the BOC confirmed that thousands of balikbayan boxes were “abandoned” by “deconsolidators” of the deliveries. Families of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who sent the boxes flocked to the warehouses where their boxes had been kept for months.
In the shipment of balikbayan boxes, there are foreign-based “consolidators” that handle the shipments from those sending them from abroad, and there are “deconsolidators” – their counterparts in the Philippines that handle the boxes once they arrive.
Among the firms facing cases are:
- All Win Cargo
- Island Kabayan Express Cargo
- Carlos Martin Guinto Co.
- GM Multi Services
- Anhar Al Mawalah Trading.
BOC spokesperson Arnold dela Torre told Rappler that the consolidators may be charged for estafa and violations in the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
Dela Torre said that, based on complaints made to their hotline, a common modus to drag more Filipinos into the so-called “scam” is by luring them to engage with these consolidators with low prices and supposed fast deliveries.
“When the boxes arrive in our country, the clearance process for the balikbayan boxes with the BOC is fast. But the concern is when they get abandoned. It is a possible scheme that consolidators and deconsolidators jointly abandon the boxes, and our countrymen can no longer claim them,” Dela Torre said in Filipino.
Dela Torre said that balikbayan box abandonment has been a problem “for a long time.” He said the BOC is in collaborative talks with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Migrant Workers to add more regulations that would safeguard the balikbayan boxes, such as stronger punitive penalties for erring consolidators and deconsolidators.
The BOC said that OFWs and their families who have been victimized by the consolidators can contact the BOC at firstname.lastname@example.org, with “[BALIKBAYAN BOXES]” in the email subject. The BOC also requested contact details for faster communication.
“Kaugnay nito, muling pinapa-alalahanan ang lahat ng mga OFWs na maging maingat sa pagpili ng forwarding companies na gagamitin sa pagpapadala ng inyong balikbayan boxes,” said the BOC in the Wednesday statement. (Related to this, we would like to once again remind all OFWs to be vigilant in choosing forwarding companies for balikbayan box deliveries.) – Rappler.com