Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) around the globe and their families in the country are appealing to the Bureau of Customs headed by Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina to stop implementing new Balikbayan Box Tax Rule where customs officials are allowed to open and inspect incoming balikbayan boxes for taxable goods. This new rule, according to the Customs Chief Lina will prevent the abuse on sending items that ‘can well may be used for commercial purposes.’
“The contents of a balikbayan box must not exceed US$500.00 in value. Canned goods, grocery items and other household effects must not exceed a dozen a kind, while apparel, whether used or new, must not exceed 3 yards per cut. Only one consignment per sender during a one-month period is allowed,” Lina told the press.
He has an argument for the taxing of goods found on balikbayan boxes but does he know (or he’s just ignoring) the fact that these items were packed by the OFWs, with sweat and tears, and sent them to their loved ones back in the country hoping for them to enjoy whatever little things these items can bring to them. These items are not for commercial use, Mr. Lina. These items are sent to bring smiles to their families. And whatever state the items have (whether brand new or second hand), you don’t have the right to just barge, open, and inspect these belongings. What’s our guarantee that your people in Customs will repack the items back in its original form after they search the box? What’s our guarantee that no one from your people will take something out from the box and keep it for themselves? Haven’t you already heard of stolen items in the airport and inside BOC warehouse?
By opening and ransacking the balikbayan boxes is like treating invasion of privacy of the OFWs and their families. Even the law enforcers need search warrants before they enter a suspect’s home. Yet your new guidelines for tax monitoring of balikbayan boxes is inhumane.
I thought, our OFWs are our heroes?
Here are some reactions of our beloved OFWs with regards to the rules of sending balikbayan boxes in the Philippines
The next photos are screencapped from NJ Abad’s Facebook of his Open Letter to Commissioner Lina
Finally, a video posted by Akin ka Nalang on Facebook:
People with relatives abroad, especially those with loved ones working as OFWs will feel all the sentiments posted by our kababayans in denouncing the balikbayan box rules.
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