CBCP-ECMI opposes new customs policy on balikbayan boxes

MANILA-- An official of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Migrant and Itinerant People (CBCP-ECMI) criticized the new policy of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) on balikbayan boxes.

Bishop Rupert Santos, chairman of the CBCP-ECMI noted that the additional requirements for the sending of balikbayan boxes would be an added burden to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and Filipinos living abroad.

"We at the CBCP-ECMI appreciate and thankful for duty tax free of the balikbayan boxes, the inclusion receipts will be problematic and burdensome to our OFWs. Why? To fill up a balikbayan box usually takes up months as they wait for sales and they will ship them for Christmas or before graduations and so to keep up receipts is added difficulty," he said.

The Bataan prelate noted that requiring senders to present receipts of the items they are sending is unreasonable.

"Besides most items like food items or clothing are gifts from their employers. So it is very shameful to ask for receipts from them," he said.

Santos added, "And lastly when our OFWs send balikbayan boxes, they give listings of the contents to the forwarders. So just ask the forwarders to furnish the BOC of the listings."

The CBCP-ECMI official said that helping OFWs should be the primary concern and not to add more burden to them by imposing unnecessary measures.

"When we want to help our OFWs let us not make any added unnecessary measures," the Catholic prelate added.

The BOC has issued Customs Memorandum Order 04-2017, which requires balikbayan boxes to include an itemized list of all its contents and receipts of newly-puchased items inside the box.

Likewise, it requires receivers to be solely relatives and family members who have to prove that they are Filipino citizens.

Source: Philippines News Agency