On inspecting ‘balikbayan’ boxes
I AM one of the thousands of Filipinos around the world who regularly send balikbayan boxes to their families in the Philippines. However, I am having second thoughts whether to send a box this year due to the recent issue on the random opening of balikbayan boxes by the Bureau of Customs.
I am not against this as it is allowed by law to curb smuggling and other fraud. What I fear, though, is the pilferage of the boxes as, allegedly, has been happening. Considering the questionable reputation of Customs, looting of the boxes’ contents is possible. I cannot blame the overseas Filipino workers for their outrage over this move of Customs. We use hard-earned money to buy these small presents we send in balikbayan boxes to our families.
Before we send the boxes to the Philippines, we fill them gradually for weeks or months with the presents we buy, bit by bit. I know how hard it is to work in a foreign land. Every cent that we save comes with back pains from hard work.
There is, to be sure, the need to protect government interest, but please don’t forget the consignor or consignee as well.
Maybe it is high time for government or Customs to modify the procedures for inspecting balikbayan boxes. May I then humbly suggest that the boxes be inspected at the Customs regional office or Customs outpost nearest to their final destination. Then Customs, upon receipt of the boxes, may notify in writing the consignee and the forwarder to appear personally before the Customs office at a specific time for the scheduled inspection. In this way, pilferage will be avoided; not only that, the Manila ports will be decongested; this, besides giving work to idle Customs officers assigned outside Metro Manila.
I hope that the above suggestion from a lowly working wife in Germany will be taken into consideration.
—SYLVIA G. REGANIT, email@example.com