Balikbayan Box Blues

On Facebook, those OFW’s whose pictures appeared above, each of them rant and rave about the Bureau of Customs (BOC) random checking of Balikbayan Boxes. Each of them, as of today’s counting generated close to half a million views. Expectedly, more OFWs would come forward to share their displeasure.

The OFW’s rant and rave displayed on Facebook rooted in the following: 1) Why the BOC nitpicked on OFW’s Balikbayan Box, when they could have concentrated on container vans of a big time smuggler of rice, garlic, onions and other items with which they let pass under their noses. 2) As the BOC personnel are notoriously known for filching, the OFWs are worried sick that those Balikbayan Boxes they painstakingly filled up with items for their loved ones, out of their sacrifices of being away, and coming from the sweat of their hard earned labor would just end up in the pockets or lockers of the BOC inspector. And 3) if their own Balikbakayan Boxes get selected for inspection and some items get lost, would they get it back? Do they have protection? And if they try to get it back, would they undergo the usual government’s red tape, which is a hassle? Each of the million OFWs sending Balikbayan Boxes have fear that their box gets pick for inspection. That’s the reason why they get ballistic.

As the BOC’s hand already full just focusing on their upfront mandated objective, lucky, if their radar picked up signal emitted by the Balikbayan Boxes. During the short stint of John Sevillo, the former BOC chief, he left the agency with three outstanding initiatives to improve bureau collection. One is, developing data valuation of principal imports as an improvement or replacement for the Import Assessment System (IAS). This valuation reference of correct value of import once done, established and shared harmoniously and uniformly to all the nation’s collection district, the BOC’s operation, BOC accreditation and audit would enhanced. The second, is identify and expose the people who run virtually the operation inside the BOC. The third, is bringing to court and prosecute brokerage firm, and people violating the BOC’s regulation. Concentrating only on these three items, the BOC’s would have no time to deal with the OFW’s Balikbayan Boxes.

The OFW’s remittance for years and years help keep afloat the Philippine’s economy regardless of the world economic condition. Now, the rising dollar reserve coming from the OFW’s is being used as a buffer or as a shock absorber in the event of the world economic downturn. Yet the BOC thought of putting tax levy on these Balikbayan Boxes. Is this the way how the government paid these OFWs for their contribution in the nation’s economy? The BOC personnel are bunch of ingrates to the OFWs who had been hailed as the nation’s modern heroes.


OFWs Balikbayan Box is just a small pry. Come to think of it. Why the BOC’s acute interest on the OFWs Balikbayan Boxes? Why wasting man-hour of BOC’s personnel following procedure to make sure no taxable items are in those boxes, when these man-hours could be used for big container vans of influential brokerage firm? OFWs are baffle with this. Ah, one of the OFW said, “Because it so much easier, handy and no hassle pilfering items from the Balikbayan Box, rather than doing the big container vans traceable by electronic records.


I am passionate about writing since I was 18 years old. Slowly, through the years, though sidetracks by other endeavors, my passion never wanes. My writing showed some progress, not as much in pecuniary form, but in psychic income. My writing started to have fruition when my opinion pieces, essays, short stories, ghost-writing graced in different publications. With the advent of ¨Blogs¨ of today’s technology, my writing made a leapfrog.

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