Balikbayan boxes

  • Written by People's Tonight
  • Published in Newsdesk
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THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) has ordered the suspension of the implementation of the new guidelines on tax-free packages sent home by the country’s millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

The willingness to bend from a previously position is, without doubt, ample proof that officials of the BoC, now headed by a retired police general, are sensitive after all to public opinion.

In fact, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano and Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto welcomed the BoC order freezing the new rules on “balikbayan” boxes.

“We would like to thank the Bureau of Customs and the Department of Finance for being sensitive to the needs of our kababayans abroad and for listening to their appeals,” said Cayetano.

He described the order of new Customs Commissioner Isidro S. Lapeña of Urdaneta City, Pangasinan as an early Christmas gift to overseas Filipinos and their families in the Philippines.

Recto said “common sense won” when Lapeña suspended the requirements for box senders to fill up an information sheet, submit a photocopy of their passport, and purchase invoices of goods to be shipped.
“I concede that there must be rules, but not so complicated that the (balikbayan) box ends up being wrapped in red tape,” said the highly-articulate senator from vote-rich Batangas province.
Note that when the now recalled guidelines came out last July, Recto warned that BoC’s order for senders to paste a list of contents on the box “was tantamount to providing a key hole that might tempt unscrupulous handlers to open and rid it of its contents.”
With the suspension of the implementation of the guidelines, Filipinos abroad are no longer required to present proofs of purchase for items they place inside the so-called balikbayan boxes.
In suspending the balikbayan box guidelines, Lapeña, a member of Class 1973 of the Philippine Military Academy, gave the administration a much-needed boost in the eyes of the Filipino people.         
Certainly, one cannot be right all the time.