Malacañang on Saturday said the Bureau of Customs is not singling out overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with its tighter rules on balikbayan boxes and it is serious in going after smugglers.
Customs Commissioner Albert Lina had earlier announced that the BOC may impose tougher measures on balikbayan boxes including additional taxes, citing that their spot checks from several warehouses have shown that people are sending items which can be used for commercial purposes as well as their value going over the allowed limit.
OFWs complained about a new BOC rule on balikbayan boxes saying the government should focus its attention on going after big smugglers.
“In the first place, they’re not being singled out. What the BOC is after are the big-time smuggler,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview Saturday.
Valte told Radyo ng Bayan that the BOC implemented new rules because there have been some concerns when it comes to balikbayan boxes being sent by OFWs. There are instances where smugglers used balikbayan boxes as a way to ship unauthorized goods and then reassemble them here.
“That’s what the Bureau of Customs is trying to stop … the misuse of balikbayan boxes,” she said. “The instructions given to the BOC is to make sure the process is clean and swift.”
The process will not cause any hold up in the release of the balikbayan boxes and that the property inside should be respected as well, she noted.
BOC has to be very conscious about handling balikbayan boxes because it’s a show of respect to the owners who legally sent items through the balikbayan boxes.
She also advised OFWs to send feedback to the BOC it they have concerns in sending balikbayan boxes to their families in the country.