Two months ago, OFWs were angered because of the very strict regulation imposed by the Bureau of Customs (BOC). Balikbayan boxes were opened and manually inspected by customs officials that caused a lot of complaints. Then on August 24th, the President took action and ordered to put a stop to it.
OFW groups are threatening to do another protest and are once again complaining because the BOC this time has increased levies on containers filled with balikbayan boxes by 125 percent.
OFW groups complained that this increase would affect the cost of shipping balikbayan boxes to their families.
In August of this year, cost of a twenty-foot containers increased from P80,000 to P120,000. And then last month, BOC commissioner Alberto Lina further increased the duties to P180,000.
OFW Family Representative Roy Seneres asked Lina to explain to OFWs the reasons behind the increase.
Representatives Neri Colmenares and Winston Costelo said that BOC should be able to justify the imposed hike on duties.
“Please respect the Congress. There is pending investigation here and he (Lina) dares to touch the rates opposed by Filipinos overseas,” Colminares said.
Aside from this increase, the BOC has also imposed stricter regulations for container inspection.
The container will still have to undergo a verification process during the unloading of individual boxes even after an x-ray examination. This will be done in the presence of a BOC examiner, x-ray representative, customs police and a representative of the broker.
Colmenares said that the process looks tedious and will likely delay the forwarding of the boxes. “The process seems to be in defiance of President Aquino’s orders to the bureau at the height of public protest,” he added.