The Bureau of Customs has issued a memorandum to all district collectors and other concerned customs officials and personnel regarding its policy on opening alerted balikbayan boxes.
Based on the memorandum, alerted balikbayan boxes shall be subject to 100% physical examination only in the presence of the consignee or his duly authorized representative.
If the consignee or representative cannot personally attend the inspection, a waiver from the owner of the shipment should be submitted.
For balikbayan boxes containing contrabands or items that are possible threats to national security such as explosives, firearms, and illegal drugs, they will be opened only upon the written approval by the district collector of the port concerned.
This latest memorandum follows the earlier policies implemented by the Bureau, particularly regarding the ‘no opening of balikbayan box’ policy. Under this policy, balikbayan boxes shall not be subjected to random or arbitrary physical inspection, and instead shall only undergo mandatory x-ray scanning. In cases of shipments tagged “suspect” after x-ray scanner, the inspector shall recommend the issuance of an Alert Order.
This series of policies are intended to avoid cases of illegal smuggling through balikbayan boxes. An average of 1,000 containers of balikbayan boxes arrive in Philippine ports every month, and the government loses at least P50 million in revenue due to smuggling.
Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon reminds the public not to abuse the balikbayan box privilege.
“Pabayaan nyo na ang balikbayan boxes. Privilege ito ng OFWs, maganda ito para sa kanila. ‘Wag sanang bastusin ang batas,” Commissioner Faeldon warns possible offenders.
For balikbayan box-related complaints and concerns, the public may forward them to the Bureau’s Customer Assistance and Response Services (BOC-CARES) at telephone number (02) 705-6000, email address email@example.com, Twitter account @CustomsPH, and www.facebook.com/BureauOfCustomsPH. ###