Thursday, October 28, 2021

Marcos hits BOC's random inspections of balikbayan boxes

SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr. scored Saturday the Bureau of Customs' (BOC) planned random inspections of balikbayan boxes as it primarily affects the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who work hard for their families in the country.

"To the BOC, have you no shame?" said Marcos, noting the agency's "bureaucratic might" against migrant workers sending balikbayan boxes to their families in the guise of an anti-smuggling campaign.

The BOC earlier said the inspection would prevent the alleged "technical smuggling" in the country.

"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," the senator said.

"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?" he added.

Marcos warned Customs Commissioner Albert Lina against carrying out further restrictions on the use of balikbayan boxes by the OFWs, including a plan to impose tax or additional fees on forwarding costs for OFW boxes.

As a public servant, Marcos said it is Lina's duty to consult with stakeholders first before implementing a "draconian" measure that would turn the lives of OFWs "upside-down".

"You seem bent on bullying our OFWs while turning a blind eye on the large-scale smuggling that goes on in nearly all ports across the archipelago," the senator said.

The senator then challenged the BOC to justify its move to open balikbayan boxes at random before the Senate during its deliberations on the proposed 2016 national budget.

He also stressed the 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," Marcos said.

Marcos said the BOC should first settle the corruption issues within the agency because it is more disturbing than the balikbayan boxes being sent by legitimate OFWs.

On Friday, Senator Ralph Recto urged the agency to purchase closed-circuit television system to monitor its random inspection of balikbayan boxes.


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