Walang Kalkalan | Customs personnel can’t forcibly open shipments without reason

Walang Kalkalan!


The Bureau of Customs (BOC) must strictly implement the Customs Modernization and
Tariff Act (CMTA) that mandates “less intrusive” examination of balikbayan boxes.


Senator Sonny Angara stressed this on Sunday who sponsored the CMTA or Republic
Act 10863, which also provides for higher tax exemption of balikbayan boxes sent by
overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).


“Malinaw sa ating batas na hindi na pwedeng basta nalang bubuksan at kakalkalin
ang mga balikbayan box,” he said.


“We pushed for this law in response to the complaints of our OFWs and their families
that some items in their balikbayan boxes were allegedly stolen or damaged upon
inspection,” Angara said.


Under the implementing rules on balikbayan boxes, all deconsolidators must
establish it own customs facility and warehouse equipped with CCTVs
(closed circuit televisions) and baggage x-ray machine for the examination of
balikbayan boxes.


All baggage x-ray facilities should be under the control and supervision of the BoC,
and only trained customs personnel shall be allowed to operate the baggage x-ray machines.


“We are hopeful that with this law in place, this will never happen again,” the
senator from Baler, Aurora said.


“Pangalagaan at respetuhin sana natin ang mga pinaghirapan at pinag-ipunan ng ating
mga kababayan abroad para ipadala sa kanilang mga pamilya dito sa bansa,” Angara said.


Under the law, balikbayan boxes sent by any Filipino worker or resident abroad not
exceeding P150,000 in value are exempted from taxes and duties.


Before the CMTA was enacted, the tax exemption ceiling for balikbayan boxes was
only P10,000.


According to the BoC, the number of balikbayan boxes shipped to the country, which
is around 400,000 every month, “doubles” during the Christmas season.


The amended implementing rules on balikbayan boxes was only released by the BoC
in August 2018.


The Bureau of Customs (BOC) revised its guidelines after receiving criticisms last year regarding its tedious requirements for overseas Filipinos to avail of the tax incentive.


Under the old guidelines, Filipinos abroad must submit an itemized list with the
total value of the contents of the balikbayan box, together with copies of
receipts, and a photocopy of their passport.


With the revised rules, receipts will only by submitted “if available” along with
a photocopy of any of these documents: passport, resident ID (identification),
overseas employment certificate or OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration)
card, work permit, or any other equivalent ID.


“Simula nang maisabatas ang balikayan box law, ito na ikatlong pagkakataon na
nananawagan tayo sa BOC na ipatupad na nang klaro at maayos ang batas. Sana
ngayong Pasko ay mapakinabangan na nga ito,” Angara said. (abogado.com.ph)

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