SAN FRANCISCO – Filipino Americans joined other kababayans worldwide on Zero Remittance Day by passing out flyers to San Francisco locals.
The activists are protesting against the increased fees for all containers entering Philippine ports imposed by the Bureau of Customs which would translate to an additional $7 per balikbayan box.
“I hope you can give importance to OFWs especially when they experience hardships just to send items home to the Philippines,” said Mher Porio. “How can you just open it? Don’t you have a heart for OFWs?”
“Don’t you know it takes us months just to fill it up?” asks Rowena Viray. “We wait for sales, look at used items just to save money so we can send all the items to our loved ones.”
These activists say that if the Philippine government values overseas workers, it should do everything it can to protect them.
They cite government’s failures in the case of on-the-loose human trafficker Isidro Rodriguez and the neglect of accused drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso.
Meanwhile the customs bureau said that it will no longer conduct random inspection of balikbayan boxes, after a directive from President Noynoy Aquino.
The BOC now uses x-ray examinations of containers.
In case an x-ray scanner shows something suspicious, only then will the BOC open the container to individually scan balikbayan boxes. And it will be done in the presence of an Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Representative.