Fil-Ams worried over BOC balikbayan box inspections

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Four times a year, Filipina migrant worker Grace Laban sends her husband, mother, and three siblings balikbayan boxes full of canned food, toiletries and other necessities.

All she wants is to give them a taste of a better life in Daraga, Albay in the Philippines.

Laban says it takes blood, sweat and tears to fill each of these six boxes.

“It takes us a while to save the money to be able to fill up a balikbayan box,” Laban said. “All because we want is for them to have is what we have.”

When the Philippine Bureau of Custom’s (BOC) announced its plan for tougher balikbayan box screening to counter smuggling of drugs, firearms and other contraband, Laban said she would only agree with the random spot check if the Customs Bureau can assure her that her boxes will reach their recipients intact.

“I’m amenable to having the boxes opened, as long as there are witnesses from both the cargo shipper and the government,” she said.

For the most part, Filipinos here fear losing an item or two when their boxes are randomly physically opened and inspected by custom’s official

Jersey City resident William Rico said, “I experienced losing balikbayan contents. Even with LBC, things get lost.”

Gloria De Happy of Jersey City said, “There’s a danger of people rummaging through the carefully packed boxes and items disappearing without the sender and recipients knowing”.

“Yung iba mga container-container napapalusot. Bakit hindi nila masugpo yun? Bakit pag-initan nila yung mga maliliit na box lang na pinaghirapan ng mga tao para mapasaya yung pamilya duon sa Pilipinas?” said Ronald Calvar of Greenwich, Conn.

Filipinos here say, if the Bureau of Customs is really serious about getting rid of the problem of smuggling, they should scan each and every balikbayan box using xray machines or scanning devices, instead of just random checks.

De Happy says, “Ayoko ng random kasi hindi naman lahat yang mache-check. Makakalusot din di ba, x-ray para makikita lahat at almost 100 percent makikita mo what is inside the box.”

“Yun dapat may x-ray dapat. Saka pag may nakitang mali, yun dapat ang buksan,” said Butch Rara of Jersey City.

“Hindi ako naniniwala na hindi nila kayang bibilhin yan (x-ray machine),” said Calvar. “Kasi may pera naman ang government kung gugustuhin nila.”

According to Global Cargo, since May 19 , the BOC has increased its fees to P100,000.00 per container.

This has forced them to increase their charges from $38 to $45 per box.

And to avoid delays in shipping, Filipinos are asked to make sure each balikbayan box they send does not go over the $500 maximum allowable worth and to make sure it doesn’t contain any banned materials.

At the end of the day, kababayans in New Jersey have only one demand from the Bureau of Customs — to make sure their hard earned balikbayan boxes reach their loved ones in one piece.

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

3 Comments on this post.

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  • Juan
    24 August 2015 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    Ilang buwan na lang si PNOY na Presidente, kaya, kanya kanyang hanapbuhay ang mga taga BOC. Pag bago na ang Presidente, bago lahat ang BOC from Pulis,collector, agent sa Airport at Pier. Ang kawawa ay ang balikbayan boxes, maski sabon, spam, toilet paper,at ano man,nanakawin at ipagbibili sa Divisoria. Pati ang computer system sa BOC ay sisirahin para medaling magnakaw, ang pag-sira ay utos din nang mga boss. Kabayan malas mo lang kung ang balikbayan boxes mo ay mapili sa random check.

  • Marissa
    24 August 2015 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    may isang interview ang isang tao sa BOC tungkol sa mga fresh vegetable and fruits galing sa china ang mga ito ay binabad nila pormaline para magtagal at hindi masira agad. ang tanong sa kanya bakit ang ,malalaking container na puno ng vegetable at fruits bakit hindi nyo na buksan? ang sagot ng gago kasi pagkain yon massira. ogok..na rason bakit ang mga balikbayan boxes namin kung binuksan nyo palagay nyo hindi din masisira? or makapuslit sa isang kamay ng inyo mga tauhan? sa tingin nyo ang mga vegetable and fruits galing china nakakalason? patay ang maka bili noon dahil sa nakalusot sa BOC…nawalang inspections. nauna na ang lagay kaya nakalusot…at ang sinsabi ng BOC kung magpadala ng mga canned goods or kung ano pa na mga toilettres dapat 1dozen lang kada items at hindi susubra ng $500. ito lang ang tanong ko paano kung malaki ang pamilya mo at lahat dapat bigyan? katulad nyan ang pinapadala sa mother ko sampong boxes of ensure sa isang Jumbo box. pano yan harangin dahil subra subra sa isang docena at sabi pang negosyo na. talaga bulok na bulok na sila.

  • JRB
    25 August 2015 at 8:45 am - Reply

    If you not sending something illegal back to the Philippines for your family, so why you would worry about the BOC checking the box that your sending back home?

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