CLARK FREEPORT -- A Korean national, who posted on Facebook her experience with “rude and arrogant” Bureau of Customs (BOC) personnel, thanked officials of the Clark International Airport for their support and assistance.
In her recent Facebook post, Woo Seonkyung personally thanked Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) acting president Alexander Cauguiran for their swift action which led to the recovery of her taxable items including a bag and cosmetic products which were held at the BOC office since last February 13.
“The past days were difficult and emotional time for our family. And during those times, there were people who fully supported and comforted us,” Woo stated.
Cauguiran sent Operation Manager Ritche Nacpil, Security Manager Ronald Aquino, and other CIAC officials to the relatives of Woo’s husband in Subic to personally hand over the items.
Cauguiran initially paid for the US$137 or P6,941 as tax for items worth US$677 Woo bought from a duty free shop at Incheon Airport, South Korea.
But Woo’s brother in law insisted to reimburse Cauguiran’s payment as a matter of principle.
“I agreed so the receipt of the P6,941 tax was in his name,” Cauguiran said.
“To President Alexander S. Caguiran, Operation Manager Ritche Nacpil, Security Manager Ronald Aquino, Operation Officers Bong Torres and Larry Pena and the two Security/Police Officers of Clark International Airport (we didn’t know their names but they are really kind to my family also) who visited personally my family in the Philippines, we are overwhelmed and deeply touched by your enormous efforts and generosity. Thank you for bringing back our trust and confidence,” she posted.
Woo also expressed hopes that the truth regarding her experience with the BOC officers will prevail.
“I hope that truth shall prevail regarding the current issue about the Bureau of Custom's bad attitude towards us,” she stated.
Woo’s sister in law reportedly suffered miscarriage because of the incident.
“My sister in law suffered from stress while in Clark Airport because of the Customs attitude. She lost her six month-old baby. It’s very hard for us to move on because of what happened,” she claimed.
Woo assailed the BOC officials for not allowing her brother in law and her wife to settle for the tax.
“If only they let my family in the Philippines pay the tax on the first day, not delaying the payment and making us coming back and forth for three consecutive days, this will not come up to this point,” Woo said.
She added that a lot of Filipinos are kind-hearted and hospitable like her family in the Philippines and the Clark Airport officers.
“But because of people like the Customs Officers, other people or foreigners think different way. Again thank you Clark Airport Officers who brought personally my luggage, it’s really amazing and heart flowing.”
Maritess T. Martin, BOC Port of Clark district collector, earlier denied the Korean’s allegations saying that their personnel are oriented to be courteous to passengers.
“We denied that kasi we constantly remind our people to be courteous enough to explain to the passengers what they have to settle or if they committed violations and what Customs policies are,” Martin said.
“Makatao naman po kami at hindi naman kami bastos sa mga pasahero (We are polite and humane and not rude to passengers),” she added.
As a matter of procedure, Seonkyung has to pass through the Customs arrival area to allow BOC personnel determine if there are taxable items to be paid.
Customs Examiner Ramon Mindanao explained to Seonkyung that it is part of the mandate of the BOC to impose duties on imported goods unless they are duty free.
The value of the bag and cosmetic products exceeded the P10,000 limit that entitles the Korean tourist a De Minimis importation, where duties and taxes is not imposed on imported goods, according to Martin.
“If they willing to pay, they should have handed the payment to airport authorities and send it to the passenger,” Martin said.
Published in the SunStar Pampanga newspaper on February 23, 2018.
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