Stop oppressing OFWs

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(This is a corrected version of our original editorial in which we committed the grave error of mistaking BOC Commissioner Albert Lina for former senator Joey Lina. We are sorry for our grave error.)

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BUREAU of Customs Commissioner Albert Lina’s brother then Senator Joey Lina became notorious years ago for being the author of a populist but anti-developmental and pro-gangster and pro-anarchy law. His law penalizes middle-class Filipinos who own real estate that have been invaded by squatters. It gives squatters the right to continue occupying their illegally occupied real estate –often with the support of gangsters and bullies — until the land’s owner can give them the money needed for them to relocate to another site.

The money required from a rich real state corporation to pay off squatters is no skin off the wealthy corporation’s owners. But the expense of relocating a squatter family or families is devastating to the thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers who are abroad to earn the money for the food, clothing and shelter of their families and to save up the funds needed to build their first homes on land they are still making installment payments for.

Not only OFWs but also “non-poor” families that own a piece of land but can’t afford to build their dream home suffer as a result of what the late Neal H. Cruz correctly dubbed “The Stupid Lina Law.”

A new “Stupid Lina Move” against OFWs
Now BOC Chief Albert Lina has come up with a plan to make OFWs miserable.

He plans to curtail the use by OFWs of balikbayan boxes because these are being used for smuggling.

We wholeheartedly agree with Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. who has lambasted BOC chief Lina for using his agency’s “bureaucratic might against overseas Filipino workers sending personal effects to their families through ‘balikbayan’ boxes in the guise of an anti-smuggling campaign.”

Senator Marcos urged Commissioner Lina not to carry out plans to impose “further restrictions on the use of balikbayan boxes by the OFWs including a plan to impose taxes or additional fees on forwarding costs for OFW boxes.”

Mr. Marcos commendably said: “Mr. Lina, you are a public servant. It is your duty to consult with stakeholders first, before embarking on any draconian measure that would turn their lives upside-down.”

He reminded the BOC chief that the balikbayan box came into being during the late President Ferdinand Marcos’ time “ when Section 105 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines was amended to provide duty and tax-free privileges to overseas Filipino workers so they can send personal effects including gift items to their families.”

Sen. Marcos said to the BOC: “Have you no shame? For every OFW, a balikbayan box is the equivalent of his or her love letter to a spouse and the rest of the family. Every item inside that box was bought with a specific person and purpose in mind, bought for with the hard-earned money of our modern-day heroes. So if a single item there gets lost, can you imagine how that feels to an OFW who invested so much emotion and money just to get those goods home?”

Investigate Customs’ perennial collection shortfalls
Sen. Marcos challenged Mr. Lina to justify before the Senate during its forthcoming budget hearings the BOC’s move to open balikbayan boxes at random. “Let them defend themselves during the budget deliberations. Specifically, I would like to know how many bigtime smugglers have they managed to put behind bars during the five years under this administration.”

He said there was a need to investigate the perennial shortfalls in the collections of the BOC.

“Are they planning to impose taxes on balikbayan boxes to make up for their annual collection deficit? In bullying our OFWs, they managed to expose their own internal deficiencies. Ayusin muna nila ang bakuran nila dahil mas nakakapinsala ang korapsyon sa loob ng BoC kesa sa mga balikbayan boxes na pinapadala ng mga lehitimong OFWs.”

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44 Comments

  1. This is what happens when you put a businessman as the head of the most corruptible agency in the government.

    Transparency? Really? And may mukhang pa na magsabi na “if OFW’s have nothing to hide”..

  2. eduardo a. ballon on

    We are calling all the OFW and their families to express their sentiment on the plan of BOC to imposed taxes on balikbayan boxes.We are asking the tuwid na daan government to justify why they are putting the burden sa mga kawawang OFW. Bakit di nila habulin ang mga malalaking smuggler na naglipana para makakolekta ng malaking taxes imbes na pahihirapan si Juan na ang layunin ay makatulong lamang sa kanyang pamilya sa pamamagitan ng isang munting balikbayan box.Ano pa ang silbi na tawagin na isang bagong bayani kung pahihirapan din pala!!!

  3. I have a feeling that there are 2 main reasons why this administration and Commissioner Lina are really interested to implement what Valte termed as “stricter” implementation of BOC rules AT THIS TIME.
    1. As a fundraising activity for the upcoming election.
    2., I agree with some reader’s opinion that Comm. Lina is aware that the courier/s being used by the OFW’s are LINA’S BIG-TIME COMPETITORS.
    I’m now in my 60’s. Even when i was a child, THE BOC’S REPUTATION has been the same-CORRUPT. So, my BIG QUESTION IS- Why is it that up to now, this government agency has always been deficient in its collections? Of course, the answer is rhetorical- UNSOLVED CORRUPTION. IT CANNOT BUY NEW HIGH-TECH GADGETS FOR INSPECTION BECAUSE THE COLLECTIONS GO TO THE POCKETS OF THE EMPLOYEES AND BOC PEOPLE.
    Ang RATIONALE NI COMM. LINA AY PARA MAHULI ANG MGA SMUGGLER/S- PLEASE TELL THAT TO THE MARINES. WHO HAS EVER CAUGHT AND PROSECUTED SMUGGLERS FROM PAST TO PRESENT TIMES? NOBODY. BECAUSE THE COLLECTIONS GO STRAIGHT TO THE POCKET OF BOC PEOPLE – and they know it.
    MY SUGGESTION- LET BOC BUY NEW HIGH-TECH X-RAY MACHINES TO INSPECT EVERY BALIKBAYAN BOX AND ALSO FOCUS INSPECTING PORT IRENE IN CAGAYAN AND OTHER PORTS WHERE BIG-TIME SMUGGLING TAKES PLACE. This way it’s ‘KWENTAS CLARAS” . With Comm. Lina doing this now, MAR ROXAS candidacy will SUFFER. OFW’S will campaign not to vote for ROXAS. MOST OFW’S also know that PRES. AQUINO ALSO FAILED TO STOP CORRUPTION BECAUSE OF HIS KKK FRIENDS. Yet, he seems/pretends not to be aware of it. MAR ROXAS, PLEASE SUGGEST THE PURCHASE OF HIGH-TECH X-RAY MACHINES ASAP. OTHERWISE, THIS NEW BOC’S DECISION WILL BACKFIRE ON YOUR CANDIDACY.

  4. Oppressing is another…but not 100% economically benefitting from the OFW remittances is the most damning. Time and time again when OFW things came up as a a topic, I try to squueeze my point that RP IS NOT 100% ECONOMICALLY BENEFITTING FROM THE REMITTANCES OF OFW…and I don’t understand why nobody is listening. OFW mostly send their remittances to unscrupulous firms masquerading as legit. What the beneficiaries in RP received are STALE CASH already in circulation and the FRESH CASH is deposited in foreign banks by these unscrupulous firms. By this analogy alone the full potential of economic benefit brought about by OFW remittances did not go to RP…it eluded RP simply because there are no incentives accompanying OFW remittances that could induce our kababayan to remit to RP gov’t recognized remittance centers. OFW remittances is the LOWEST COST source of RP Funds, BOI gives incentives to foreign investors, BSP pay intererst to sovereign bonds…question is why not RP give incentives to remittances of OFW, which by the time we are old and permanently return to RP, we can look forward to.

    By my own strapulation the amount involve is in billions…and should anybody would like to join me and know more about the scheme rll6358@hotmail.com is my e-mail. OFW’s let us wake up..we are now a force to be reckoned with. Let us stop this LIP SERIVCE by our own gov’t. Let us have our sufferings be compensated..we have invested our talents, money, time, loneliness, heartaches, to the point our very own lives just as to help this RP Gov’t. Let this gov’t know we are not passive anymore…we are now trying to make difference…◘◘◘

    • Nestor Condor on

      Honest president, my foot. Has he been honest with the 2000 container vans lost in 2011? Has he ever made public the paperwork for the Porsche he bought in the same year?

  5. It has all the blessing of this inept president! He should be prosecuted later on for his failed policies: PDAF, mamasapano, yolanda funds. His attacks on OFWs, the spine of the economy is just foolish. Another president who will go to jail.

  6. Thanks Sen. Bongbong for depending the OFWs, often the milking cow of the administration. You have my vote and the OFWs I know if ever you would run for a higher office.

  7. The likes of Senator Bongbong Marcos, Mayor Lito Atienza, Mirriam Defensor Santiago who acted swiftly by raising their voices in support to millions of OFW’s against the repressive BOC move against OFW and balikbayan boxes is COMMENDABLE. Setting aside ill political motives that is playing in our head, it is still a welcome and worthy gesture of support to OFW’s. Mabuhay po kayo Senador Bongbong Marcos, Mayor Lito Atienza, Senador Mirriam Santiago. Sana ay magtagumpay kayo sa inyong larangan sa politika at umaasa ang bawat PILIPINO na lagi kayong nakabantay sa kapakanan ng nakararami at ng ating bansang PILIPINAS.

  8. why this people accepting in the government position which they cannot solve the problem but to give another problem.Why the balikbayan boxes is a personal things and properties of the ofw’s , they want to open to check without permission to the owner?If something’s lost any one item, who will blame for that, custom personnel.I ashame those people behind this corruption and dirty behavior doing of the BOC.

  9. This is a simple case of business rivalry. Lina knows that Balikbayan boxes business is the bread and butter of his competitor

  10. this is before lina’s time but i would like to point out a proof that the boc is a den of thieves, remember that some 2,000 container vans banished into thin air!

  11. Thanks Marcos for defending OFWs. We do not want them to be stolen from or have to pay to receive their boxes.

  12. hay naku, puno na po ang salop!
    kahit ang munting kaligayahan ng balikbayan boxes ay pagnanakawan pa rin para sa election 2016 ng mga sakim na LP – Abad, Abaya, Drilon, Pnoy
    Mr. Lina – alam ng lahat ng OFW ang iyong motibo at utos ng iyong amo!
    matakot ka sa diyos! maawa ka sa mga OFW!

    BAYAN – heto ba ang tuwid na daan?

  13. It was Ex Sen JOEY LINA not BERT LINA who authored the so called Lina Law.

    =REPLY
    YES, WE ARE SORRY FOR OUR GRAVE ERROR. The error has been corrected.

  14. Sir, since you have mentioned that Sen. Marcos is opposing on this bullshit and stupid Lina move… he (Sen Marcos, and all other concerned Senators) should stop this bullying on OFW’S….of which i’m one of them. Thru your column, please help us stop this additional corruption of BOC…Mr.Lina is a devil puppet of Aquino…this must stop!

  15. I beg to disagree dapAt lang magbayad sila ng buwis , dapat wala ng balikbayan boxes at pera ang ipadala nila , para sa Pilipinas sila bumili
    Ng mga kailangan nila ,increasing locally made products viability and thus providing JOBS to Pilipinos , in the Philippines. I stopped sending balikbayan boxes long ago , because I realized that I am contributing
    To joblessness in my own country .

    • kasilagan6657 on

      ehhhemmm…there you go again…yellows…you were not sending balibayan boxes after all coz you are working in BOC…all ypu send to your family are “lean meats” from balikbayan boxes of OFWs….

    • Bakit hindi pa ba sapat yung perang pinadadala namin sa pamilya namin na ginagamit pangbili ng locally made sabon/locally made cooking oil/locally made pandesal at iba pang mga locally made? Kung ayaw mong magpadala, wag mong gawin. Karapatan mo yun.

      Pag umuuwi kami, di ba me dala rin kaming pera na pinanggagastos para kumain sa Jollibee/MacDo/Burger King/Mang Insal. Di ba sandamakmak ang mga outlet nito? So, there you go, maraming trabaho at sa Supply Chain nito.

      Truck truck ba ang ipinadadala ng bawat isang OFW para maging daan upang malugi ng husto ang Pilipinas thru BOC?

      Kung wala ang OFW, bangkarote na ang Pilipinas. Buti pa si Pres. Marcos, alam nya ang hirap ng mga OFW kaya nga nag issue siya executive order amending Section 105 of the Custom and Tarrif Code.

      Etong si Bert Lina, me ari o dating me ari ng Air 21 na dating me hawak ng FedEx eh nalulugi na yata sa dami ng kalaban nila sa business ng Balik Bayan Box. Kaya eto, gusto nyang bweltahan ang mga kawawang OFW na hindi ginagamit ang serbisyo ng kumpanya nya.

      Dagdag pa na kailangan nila (LP) ng malaking pondo para siguraduhing mananalo ang manok nilang si Mar Roxas – GOOD LUCK NA LANG SA INYO!

    • lahat ng sinasabing mga dapat dito bilhin ay galing sa ibang bansa din o imported at karamihan ay smuggled pa. halos lahat ng mabibili mo sa divisoria ay smuggled goods. so ang pinayayaman mo ay mga mayari ng malls na kadalasan ay sila ang nag smuggle ng mga kargamento. syempre wala sa pangalan nila ang importasyon.

    • remember the billions of dollars being pumped into the economy of the OFWs. I bet you are one exemption and I also bet that you are not an OFW but an immigrant who opted to escape from country because you are a selfish coward who does not have the balls to help your country of birth.

    • holy crap thai anton!you were contributing to joblessness? Paano? I have been sending boxes for years helping my family and everybody now has jobs. what has sending goods got to do with joblessness? you send your family to college and the they get jobs. the boxes are for their supplies,imported food stuff, and things they cannot afford to buy otherwise. many relatives make use of slightly used shirts or clothes, and they really need it. I send a lot of baby stuff for the poor mothers in the country and they are very grateful for it. To a new mother who does not even have a blanket for the baby, these stuff are urgently needed and they were given to me by friends. they cant nab or arrest the richdrug dealer or smuggler because they can afford to pay them off, so they hit the poor overseas worker is there sanity to this? they are all crooks!!!!

    • Sir ‘Thai Anton
      Alam po ninyo hindi ako naniniwala na OFW kayo?bkit ko ito nasasabi kasi di ninyo nararamdaman ang mga totoong nararamdaman namin na mga OFW.
      Minsan nga naiisip ko parang tama nga yata yung sinasabi ng isang pulitiko na ang gobyernong ito ay walang malasakit sa aming mga mahihirap..Lilinawin ko po kung maganda sana ang opportunity diyan di na kami aalis diyan wala nga po at isa pa po may batas na tayo diyan bakit di muna baguhin ang batas kung kailangan talaga at sa panig namin ano po ba ang naigaganti sa amin ng gobyerno?kami bagong bayani sa salita pero sa gawa wala.Lahat ng bagahe may mga panagalan namin at kung ano man ang nasa loob nito pananagutan namin may x-ray naman at wag lang sana bubuksan dahil pag binuksan na doon na ang temptation eh wala pa namang cctv camera sa working place nila at please imbestigahan ninyo ang sarili ninyong bakuran.bakit ang dami na nagtatrabaho diyan sa BOC ang gaganda ng buhay Magkano ba ang kita nila?

    • what the hell are they going to buy their in the Philippines since all branded and luxury items are all expensive and old stocks not like here in usa, paris, Milan its top of the line and up dated! stupid

    • E Di WoW! .Isagad na natin, alisin na rin yung exemption sa travel tax di ba. Tapos alisin na rin natin yung representation ng mga OFW na may problema sa ibang bansa, hayaan natin silang magbayad ng sarili nilang ABOGADO, diba. Ang OFW dapat lang na magpadala ng magpadala ng PERA para makatulong sa pamilya nila at sa bansa, WALA silang karapatang bigyan ng kahot anong benipisyo, tutal, sila naman eh mg Bagong Bayani, kaya dapat, MAGPAKAMARTIR lang sila, di ba Thai Anton.

    • Crisostomo Dela Cruz on

      Hehehe stopped sending balikbayan box kasi baka hindi ka na naka abroad or nagtatrabaho kana rin sa BOC. Baka isa kang BIGTIME na OFW na ngayon kaya madami kang pambili ng imported goods sa Pinas. Lahat ng perang kinikita ng OFW diyan sa Pinas ginagasta at huwag mong sabihin hindi ito nakakulong sa economy ng Pinas.

  16. is Alberto Lina of the BOC the same Lina who authored the so called Lina Law? Wasn’t it Joey Lina?

    REPLY

    Yes, We are very sorry for this very serious error. The mistake has been corrected.

  17. You are erroneously referring to Mr. Alberto Lina as the author of the Lina Law authored by senator Joey Lina. It is an unforgivable journalistic error to commit a mistake of fact.

    REPLY

    YES, WE ARE VERY SORRY FOR THIS GRAVE ERROR. The mistake has been corrected.

  18. You’re very correct Mr. Senator Bong Bong, you are the man that every Filipino Citizen proud of! Let them assured and let them know ( the OFW)shall be soon freed from bondage, and let them know too(the Culprit at The BOC) their days are numbered..

    I know Mr. Senator, even you did not declared yet your intention to ran for President,but your heart clearly speaks. Rest assured, that all my fellow OFW’s around the globe are united with you…!

  19. Mr Joey Lina is the author of Lina Law ! Is he a brother of Alberto Lina? Basta Lina pabigat sa OFW!

    REPLY
    Yes. We are very sorry for the grave error of referring to BOC Commissioner Bert Lina as former Senator Joey Lina.
    The mistake has been corrected

  20. Maria Noela Kertz on

    Mr President Aquino, Is Lina your gift to the OFWs? I have so much respect in you in your fight against corruption until now. My respect in you is going down the drain. You are becoming an anti-OFW. Let’s not forget that the remittances from the OFW’s are helping in the country’s economy. You put people to power with questionable background and integrity. Don’t you realize, these chosen herds you have will totally reflect your personality and integrity in the end? We (OFW’s) are saddened by these rules of the boc going after the small time people who work hard just to make their love ones or family happy. Wake up Mr Aquino and listen to the OFW’s.

    • the ofw workers of the philippines are the backbone of the philippine economy ,leaving their homeland and love ones to help their families , gone for years ,miss their childrens development , what more does that lina guy want, send him over there ….. should be fired from his job, and all the ofws should unite and let their voice be heard and get lina out of office

  21. By the way, to the BOC, have you completed your investigation why number of containers containing toxic garbage were shipped to our country. What’s the outcome? Are there officials who need to be investigated and punished? Did you guys put this issue under the rag?

  22. I am an OFW for more than 30 years. I really don’t see the problem of checking Balikbayan boxes. It’s true that there are some OFW who are engage in smuggling luxury items. It’s well known by many Filipinos in various countries. It’s robbing our country of taxable goods for nearly USD 1 Billion a year. I don’t believe for a minute that ordinary OFW will find this ruling will make their life miserable. They cannot afford luxury items for God sake. The life of smugglers will definitely get miserable. I would like to challenge those who think that smuggling is not going on Balikbayan boxes. I think the BOC is right in checking the Balikbayan boxes if it is to stop or eliminate smuggling by usually rich people.
    I think it’s good for our country to start collecting more taxes especially from the politicians and filthy rich businessmen.

    • Ang problema, pag binuksan ung kahon eh hindi naman sa harap nung may-ari kundi sa harap nung agent lang. At pag nakursundahan nitong mamang/aleng customs na ito ung item/s eh kukunin na lang nya. Pag pumalag naman yung agent, tiyak tatakunin ni mamang/aleng custom yung agent. So suma total, ung laruan o spam na dapat mapunta sa pamilya nung OFW ay nasikwat pa.

      Common knowledge dyan sa customs kung sinu-sino ang mga “biyaherong” malalaki ang gumagamit sa mga balik bayan boxes na yan. Kaya every time na me parating itong mga biyaherong ito eh naka timbre na yan sa kanila.

    • Ah, and let all suffer because of the misdeeds of the few, like what Bush did to all airports to combat international terrorism? Ah, but you know how people at the BoC and the Bureau of Post have pilfered mails and boxes. It is possible that there should be a commensurate and just way to inspect balikbayan boxes under the premise: they are private goods of private individuals intended for their private use. You make smuggling the premise, then you make us all smugglers, or suspects or alleged smugglers. What a shame! How infantile and how narrow-minded can one get in one’s selfishness and ego-tripping.

    • To: JRT

      Sir,

      Sabi po ninyo 30 yrs. na kayo na OFW ? so dapat alam na ninyo ang feeling namin na mahihirap? wala na ba silang maisip na ibang paraaan ?kailangang bang idamay ang lahat sa pagkakamali at ng mga gumagawa ng masama?May x-ray naman di ba doon lang malalaman na kung ano ang nasa loob ng kahon?bukod pa sa lahat ng balikbayan box may mga pangalan ng nagpadala so doon lang may idea ka na.Kung OFW nga siya o hindi saka bakit agad agad paiiralin na agad ito eh hindi pa sila handa at isa pa di ba may batas na umiiral dito ano ang mangyayari kung lagi na lang ganyan.Ang namamahala o mamumuno papalit palit yan pero ang batas nanatili yan.Masyado naman ninyo kaming ina api,nagtatrabaho kami dito para sa pamilya namin na kahit malayo sa mga mahal namin sa buhay tinitiis namin.Sure ako di mo yan narasan Mr. JRT at kung totoo ngang OFW ka kasama mo siguro ang pamilya mo at maganda ang trabaho mo kaya para sayo maliit na issue ito.Pero sa amin na maliliit na tao malaking issue ito at sana maunawaan naman ninyo ang mga nadarama namin na mahihirap dalangin ko na sana pagkalooban kayo ng damdaming empatiya para sa ganoon maramdaman ninyo kung ano ang nararamdam ng mga tulad naming mahihirap. Salamat po

    • eliminate smuggling by targeting the “balikbayan” boxes of OFWs? these boxes are limited in sizes and weights as defined by the airlines as compared to the big container vans which can contain anything from luxury vehicles and appliances to imported food products. So why is BOC targetting the OFW balikbayan boxes and are turning blind on big smuggling syndicates using these big container vans?

  23. It was a Joey Lina who authored the law. anyways both of them are big failures.

    REPLY
    YES, WE ARE SORRY FOR OUR GRAVE ERROR. The mistake has been corrected.

  24. It has the go signal of our Shameless and incompetent President. This administration is the most ineffective and useless among the previous administration from the time of Cory Aquino. The balikbayan boxes is the scapegoat of their failed government of Pnoy.

  25. rene valderrama on

    Alberto Lina was never a member of Congress. How could he have authored a Law?

    REPLY
    YES, YOU ARE RIGHT. WE MADE A GRAVE ERROR IN MISTAKING BERT LINE FOR HIS BROTHER FORMER SENATOR JOEY LINA.
    The mistake has been corrected.