Bureau of Customs Stops Random Check on Balikbayan Boxes

MANILA – Following the directive from President Benigno S. Aquino III, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) will no longer conduct random physical inspection on balikbayan boxes from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“The Bureau will follow the President’s directive on balikbayan boxes effective immediately. Instead of random physical inspections, we will do a mandatory X-ray examination of containers of consolidated shipments and balikbayan boxes at no cost to the sender or OFW,” Commissioner Alberto Lina said in a statement.

He assured the public that witnesses will be present in the event that a physical inspection is made to ensure transparency.

“Moving forward, we will seek the help of our freight forwarder companies to install their own X-ray machines in their warehouses following specifications that Customs will require to expedite clearance of our OFW’s balikbayan boxes, while at the same time protecting our borders from contraband and smuggled items,” he added.

With this, Lina noted that they are planning to obtain additional CCTV cameras and K9 units in their ports.

“We are already looking into ways of acquiring K9 units and additional CCTV cameras for our ports through emergency procurement,” he said.

The BOC chief also asked the public to report to them Customs employees who are illegally opening their balikbayan boxes.

“We enjoin the public to report Customs employees who commit unauthorized physical inspections of balikbayan boxes to submit photos and videos of these acts to helpdesk@customs.gov.ph with the necessary details so we can act on them,” Lina added.

The BOC recently got the ire of the public, particularly Filipinos who are living and working abroad, after announcing that the bureau will impose tighter rules on balikbayan boxes, including randomly opening them. (PNA)