A few days ago, the Bureau of Customs (BoC) stated its intent to stiffen regulations on balikbayan boxes, particularly the implementation of random inspections.
In a statement, BoC Commissioner Alberto Lina pointed out that "undervalued items and under-declared contents" sent by Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) through these duty and tax-free parcels, which sometimes are used for commercial purposes, fall under "smuggled goods." He believes that "existing rules are obsolete and we may have to reassess our coordination and processes with consolidators for stricter and improved compliance."
As expected, many didn't like the idea of what would appear as an invasion of privacy, including some public officials like Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. and Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.
Bongbong is quite the concerned citizen for it was during his father's tenure that the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines was amended to give OFWs duty and tax-free privileges on sending gift items to their families.
"To the BoC, I ask: Have you no shame? For every OFW, a balikbayan box is the equivalent of his or her love letter to a spouse and the rest of the family. Every item inside that box was bought with a specific person and purpose in mind, bought for with the hard-earned money of our modern-day heroes," he explained. "So if a single item there gets lost, can you imagine how that feels to an OFW who invested so much emotion and money just to get those goods home?"
Recto, meanwhile, reiterated the use of x-ray machines to monitor the boxes' contents without even having to tamper them.
But no sector has gotten more outraged than the OFWs themselves, who took to social media to vent their frustration with the development. Aside from the usual keyboard-warrior comments, some of our brothers and sister in abroad expressed their utter displeasure through whimsical memes.
Some got a little creative with their balikbayan boxes:
Others are seeing the move as just another way for authorities to predate on them and their valuable stuff.
Obviously, his assertion didn't gain him a lot of fans...
...which even went on to some Clash of Clans madness.
On the other hand, some were still thoughtful, coming up with customized package ideas for those who will do the inspection. And because we're talking reptiles...
And on the issue of smuggling, our modern-day heroes have this to say:
Still, the best balikbayan box issue-related post came from these dudes, whom we'd like to commend for being able to balance plight and merriment despite being away from their loved ones:
Video via Kho イアン
THIS JUST IN: OFWs seemed to have found another ally, in the person of commentarist Teddy Locsin Jr.
@ANCALERTS Fuck you. @ANCALERTS Yes but fuck you we are used to the brokers & freight forwarders who don't shake down because bad for their business.
@ANCALERTS Fuck you.— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) August 24, 2015
@ANCALERTS Yes but fuck you we are used to the brokers & freight forwarders who don't shake down because bad for their business.— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) August 24, 2015