Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto has urged the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to start amending its rules in the shipment of balikbayan boxes, beginning "with some commonsensical changes" to regulations which had elicited complaints from overseas Filipino workers.
"For example, if BOC is insisting on a declaration, then instead of plastering the list of contents for everyone to read, can it not be placed inside a sealed envelope and taped on the side of the box instead?" Recto said.
"Tapos sulatan yung envelope ng: "To be opened by the Bureau of Customs only," he said.
That would be better than requiring a sender to display a list of contents on the side of the box, Recto said.
Recto had earlier warned that BOC's rule to senders to attach a list of contents "is tantamount to providing a keyhole that might tempt unscrupulous handlers to open it and rid it of its contents."
"Ang pangamba nga ng isang OFW, kapag nilista, baka maraming matukso kasi parang sinulat mo na rin na 'Open me, I'm yours'" he said.
"Yung mga container vans wala namang nakasulat sa gilid kung ano laman nito, bakit yung laman ng balikbayan box gusto ipadetalye ngBOC?" Recto said.
Recto said OFWs will also find it hard to comply with the BOC requirement that they attach purchase receipts to brand-new goods.
"Pag bumili ka ng pantalon at isang martilyo sa supermarket, kasama ng isang cart ng mga groceries, at ang resibo ng pinamili mo ay isang metro ang haba, pati ba ito kailangan mo isama?" Recto asked.
"Pag sinabi mo sa OFWs na humingi ng separate receipt para sa pantalon, maraming magaalburoto diyan," he said.
"And what if you have bought a plantsa a year ago, and it has remained unused and unopened, how can you comply with the BOC rules if you have already lost the receipt, he said.
Recto had urged the Joint Congressional Customs and Tariff Oversight Committee, which is mandated to monitor the proper implementation of Republic Act 10863, which pegs at P150,000 the total annual value of tax-free balikbayan box shipments, to review the law's implementing rules.
"The committee should review the rules and rid it of complicated requirements that will wrap balikbayan boxes in red tape," Recto said.
Recto said it will be the duty of the oversight committee to make a finding if the BOC, in its 22-page Customs Memorandum Order No. 04-2017 which implements Sec. 800 (g) of RA 10863, or the Customs and Modernization and Tariff Act or CMTA, "committed a bureaucratic overreach."
Section 800 (g) of CMTA allows OFWs and other Filipinos residing abroad to bring in or send to their families in the Philippines tax-free balikbayan boxes, whose contents are not intended for barter and sale and as long as they are not worth P150,000.
OFWs can avail of this privilege a maximum of three times in a calendar year.
Source: Senate of the Philippines