President Benigno Aquino III has ordered the Bureau of Customs to stop implementing its latest policy of opening random balikbayan boxes sent by Overseas Filipino Workers to their families here in the Philippines.
The decision came after President Aquino’s meeting with Bureau of Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima on Monday afternoon.
Based on President Aquino’s order, Customs should stop with its physical inspection on balikbayan boxes unless the x-ray and K-9 examinations will raise suspicions regarding the content of the said boxes.
All balikbayan boxes will be subjected to x-ray and K-9 inspections only, without any cost to the sender and or the OFW.
Prior to this, OFWs and netizens alike were irked with the new policy of the Bureau of Customs wherein balikbayan boxes are randomly being opened and inspected as part of their alleged program in combating smuggled goods from entering the country through the use of balikbayan boxes.
The full context of President Aquino’s order to the BoC:
“First, there will be no random or arbitrary physical inspection of balikbayan boxes. Moving forward, all containers of balikbayan boxes should undergo mandatory x-ray and K-9 examination–at no cost to the sender or the OFW,” the statement said. “Only in cases where there are derogatory findings from the x-ray or K-9 examination will there be a physical inspection of goods.”
“Second, in the event of a physical inspection, the Bureau will request that an Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) representative or a designated officer of an OFW Association be present, with provisions for CCTV monitoring of the inspection areas.”