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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Anyone Who Extort or Steal From Balik-bayan Box Will Face Imprisonment of Up To 12 Years

Very often we encounter posts regarding balik-bayan boxes. Last year, one of the battles that OFWs faced was the manual inspection of the balik-bayan boxes in the Bureau of Customs.
 According to the BOC, they did the manual inspection to determine the value of the cargo and if tax is to be imposed on the shipment. 

Many OFWs and expatriates protested against this in the social media to the point that President Aquino has to order to put a stop on the manual inspection. However, even after the order was said to have been implemented a lot of complain has still been circulating in Facebook regarding their cargo or balik-bayan boxes that has been tampered and opened. Usually reports and pictures of boxes includes complains of missing items in their shipment. 

   Senders of boxes and their family no longer knows if the blame should be to the Bureau of Customs who might have inspected their box in spite of the stop order or if the cargo forwarders might be taking advantage of the issue and situation.  But according to BOC, the manual inspection has been stopped and they are no longer opening boxes.

Senator Ralph Recto pushed for higher penalties against government officials or employees who will pilfer or steal items from the balik-bayan boxes. Anyone who will also extort money for the release of shipment or cargo will also be facing penalties. 

Recto said that through the proposed Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), a penalty of six years to 12 years imprisonment and a fine of P500,000 to P1 million await those who will be found guilty of pilferage and extortion in exchange of the release of balikbayan boxes.

Aside from the penalty and imprisonment, government officials or employees found guilty will also be perpetually disqualified from holding public office, and their benefits will be forfeited.

The proposed law’s message is clear: If we cannot protect our OFWs and Balikbayans, we have no business to be in government,” the senator said.