WORLDWIDE anger of Overseas Filipino Workers and good sense have triumphed over the plan announced by Customs Chief Bert Lina to inspect balikbayan boxes. Mr. Lina had been a bright and successful private sector businessman, so it must have been one of his assistants who cooked up the “utok Bolinao” (that’s Binisaya for “utak-dilis” or anchovy-brain) plan. He must fire that fellow right away.
Disturbed by the reaction of OFWs all over the globe, President BS Aquino on Monday afternoon met with Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Customs Chief Bert Lina and told them to shelve implementation of the inspection of and customs duties on balikbayanboxes. Mr. Lina immediately announced in a statement that he would carry out the President’s instructions. (See “No more random inspections” The Manila Times Tuesday August 25 Page A2).
Untrustworthy Customs personnel
Random inspections would have exposed balikbayan boxes to Customs personnel whom OFWs generally view as untrustworthy government personnel who are likely to steal their gifts of shoes, clothes, canned goods and other goodies to their spouses, children and parents.
But BOC Commissioner Lina on Tuesday said the agency will seek the help of freight forwarders. “Instead of random physical inspections, we will do a mandatory X-ray examination of containers of consolidated shipments and balikbayan boxes at no cost to the sender or OFW.” He said BOC will give specifications of X-ray machines to freight forwarders who would then be required to use these in their warehouses. This, he said, would expedite the clearance of balikbayan boxes and at the same time catch contraband and smuggled goods.
It looks like this episode in the history of the BS Aquino dispensation has ended in happy note.
Nonetheless, we view it as another proof that the capacity of the BS Aquino administration to inflict misery on our people knows no limits. It will surely give us other miseries before it finally departs on June 30 next year.
We have to face this sad and implacable reality. For considering that there are at least 10 million to 11 million of these OFW economic heroes, and considering too that President Aquino is consumed by the desire to perpetuate his Liberal Party in power by winning in the 2016 elections, it should have been a cardinal rule for Aquino’s men to NEVER alienate the OFWs and their families and to ALWAYS impress them with respectful, kind and friendly attention.
That this has not happened should not surprise anyone. First, they have the Smartmatic PCOS machines,
And, also, BS Aquino from day one has shown indifference and even hostility to OFWs. Perhaps this is because OFWs are mostly ordinary Filipinos. They are not of the elite kind of people who are landlords, businessmen, industrialists and political lords, like the Cojuangcos and the Aquinos. Maybe he cannot forget that OFWs as a class of Filipinos were born of the Marcos regime (a brainchild of the greatly admired—even by PNoy’s own mother Cory and father Ninoy—Blas Ople).
This is why BS Aquino and his men, like his spokesman Edwin Lacierda, don’t believe that OFWs are saviors of our economy by constantly holding a lifeline for our nation in the form of over $25 billion in annual remittances of their hard-earned wages overseas.
That is why Mr. Lacierda can dare say, “Hindi naman sa gobyerno napupunta and ipinapadalang dolyar ng mga OFWs kaya hindi ito nararamdaman directa sa ekonomiya ng bansa.” [Dollar remittances from OFWs do not directly affect the country’s economy.”
He and his boss the President do not believe—as we do and keep on repeating in this space and in the personally bylined writings of Times editors—that this group of Filipino men and women for four and a half decades now has literally kept past governments from sinking, and is now keeping the Aquino administration afloat with their remittances.