A new memorandum from the Bureau of Customs, starting August 1, only relatives of balikbayan box senders can receive them.
BOC Memorandum Order 04-2017 also ordered that balikbayn boxes should include a detailed list of balikbayan box contents as well as receipts of items that are newly-purchased.
The new regulations, however, did not sit well with cargo forwarding companies, saying that the new orders make sending packages more burdensome for Filipinos based overseas.
“Kung ang reglamentos ng Customs ay ayon sa batas na nakalagay ngayon, ito ay magpapabigat sa ating mga kababayan,” said lawyer James Ian Dela Vega, counsel for Door To Door Consolidators Association of the Philippines.
“Kung pinadala niya po ito sa kanyang kaibigan, sa kanyang girlfriend o sa kanyang nobya, hindi po siyang maaring magkaroon ng availment doon sa insentibong o pribileyong ibinibigay ng batas,” he also said.
Likewise, senders must also prove that they are Filipino by giving a xeroxed copy of their passports to the forwarding company, and must be amenable to possible inspection of their boxes.
Dela Vega hinted that incomplete documentation could mean additional tax levies might be slapped to balikbayan box senders.
“Kung sakaling mali, hindi kumpleto, walang resibo, maaring patawan siya ng Bureau of Customs ng kaukulang duties and taxes para sa pinadala niyang mga personal na bagay na walang tamang suportang tamang dokumento o papel,” Dela Vega said.
Athena Dans, chief of Manila International Container Port’s Informal Entry Division, said, however that all the provisions under CMO 04-2017 are basic and similar to what is being practiced in other countries.
“That’s a declaration. You are declaring what’s inside the box. Basic naman yan sa customs all over the world. You have to declare what you are importing,” Dans said, adding that the move is aimed at curbing smuggling.
“Kami sa Bureau of Customs, we have to protect government revenues, sila naman kasi (some balikbayan box senders) negosyo yung sa kanila,” Dans contended.
Dans, however, assured OFWs that they have nothing to worry about if they would just follow the regulations in sending balikbayan boxes.