Four hundred (400) balikbayan boxes which have been overstaying at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) since March 2016 will now be released to their proper recipients, following an agreement between the Bureau of Customs and a winning bidder during a public auction on Tuesday, 22 November.

Winning bidder Pherica International heeded the request of BOC that instead of selling the boxes to other parties, the boxes be released to their rightful recipients at a reasonable cost in time for the Christmas season.

The subject of the bidding was an abandoned shipment containing the 400 balikbayan boxes, which arrived thru US-based international cargo forwarder RDR Forwarding. The said forwarder failed to secure a local forwarder to process the shipment due to bankruptcy. Since the abandonment, balikbayan box senders said they can no longer contact RDR Forwarding.

Based on Section 1129 of the Customs Tariff and Modernization Act (CMTA), an imported shipment is deemed “abandoned” when the importer, owner or consignee fails to file an entry within thirty (30) days from the date of discharge of the last package, or having filed such entry but fails to claim the importation within fifteen (15) days after. Such importation will be seized in favor of the government and sold in a public auction.

Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon has previously instructed MICP officials to look into this special case and exhaust all possible remedies so that the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families won’t be troubled for long by the forwarder’s negligence. He stressed the significance of each balikbayan box, which symbolizes of the hardship of OFWs and their love for families left behind.

In Tuesday’s bidding, MICP District Collector Vincent Philip Maronilla requested participating bidders to consider the special case and devise a special arrangement with the recipients. A number of bidders agreed with this arrangement.

Pherica International, after winning in the bidding, said it will coordinate with MICP and with the recipients to process the immediate release of the balikbayan boxes.

Relatives of OFWS present during the auction expressed their gratitude to BOC officials and to Pherica for this very timely act of kindness. The BOC, on its part, thanked all the bidders, particularly Pherica International for this consideration.

Commissioner Faeldon is reminding OFWs to be extra mindful in sending balikbayan boxes by ensuring that they transact only with legitimate cargo forwarders. The list of accredited international and local forwarders is available on BOC and DTI websites. ###