• OFWs warned on shipping anomalies

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    The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will conduct a series of roadshows outside the country in a bid to urge overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to transact only with sea consolidators and freight forwarders that are accredited by the agency, when sending packages to their loved ones here in the country.

    “We are set to conduct a roadshow on balikbayan boxes in various countries where most complaints on the nondelivery, loss, delay and damage or pilferage come from,” said Victorio Mario Dimagiba, DTI Consumer Welfare and Business Regulations Group officer-in-charge.

    “Through the roadshow, the department intends to bring it loud to Filipinos abroad that they need to be vigilant consumers to avoid untoward incidents regarding their balikbayan boxes,” said Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo.

    Dimagiba said that the agency felt the need to communicate with OFWs regarding balikbayan shipments after getting a lot of complaints, especially from the recipients of the shipments in the Philippines. Since 2008, around 600 shipment complaints from OFWs and their families were received by the agency.

    Among countries where the complaints come from, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates had the most number of complaints with 156 or 26 percent; tailed by Chicago in the United States with 53 or 9 percent; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with 52 or 9 percent; Kuwait with 44 or 7 percent; Jedah, Saudi Arabia with 26 or 4 percent; Singapore with 18 or 3 percent; and Hong Kong with 13 or 2 percent.

    Domingo said it’s not just the OFWs and their families back home that should be informed about the problems regarding balikbayan shipments, but also the accredited freight and consolidation agencies.

    “Simultaneously, we’re limiting the space for deceitful sea freight forwarders to do monkey business and instead, let legitimate firms do their jobs and assist more Filipino consumers,” he said.

    “It is also important that we establish partnerships with other Philippine government offices and with organizations of OFWs to ensure awareness on the appropriate procedures of sending Balikbayan boxes,” Dimagiba added.

    The DTI will conduct the roadshow beginning October 19 in Hong Kong and in Singapore on October 25. The agency will also visit Riyadh and Dubai next month, although no exact date has been announced yet.

    “OFWs have a penchant in sending holiday gifts for their loved ones and we intend to lessen if not eradicate complaints or cases of undelivered balikbayan boxes in the months ahead if these unsuspecting OFWs will    send their boxes through fraudulent foreign sea consolidators,” Dima-giba said.

    Jan Erick C. Tutaan

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