The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has taken a significant step forward in assisting Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) with their hard-earned balikbayan boxes through a strategic partnership with the Office of the President (OP) via the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC).
In a meeting held on August 3, 2023, at Malacañan Palace, Acting Deputy Commissioner Michael Fermin of the Internal Administration Group, along with other key BOC officials, met with Executive Secretary Lucas P. Bersamin and Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission Undersecretary Gilberto DC Cruz to address the pressing issue of unscrupulous forwarders victimizing numerous OFWs abroad using balikbayan boxes.
Acting Deputy Commissioner Fermin presented the concrete actions taken by the BOC to support OFWs and facilitate the release of their precious balikbayan boxes. One of the significant achievements highlighted was the successful release of 36 containers of abandoned consolidated shipments, comprising 9,689 boxes. Out of these, 9,011 boxes have been rightfully distributed to their respective owners, while 678 boxes remain unclaimed due to insufficient information. The BOC remains committed to resolving this issue and reuniting these boxes with their rightful recipients.
To combat the reprehensible activities of unscrupulous forwarders involved in the balikbayan box scheme, the BOC has filed 11 criminal complaints to bring the perpetrators to justice and safeguard the interests of OFWs.
Moreover, the BOC is actively finalizing a joint memorandum agreement with the PAOCC, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), forwarders, and other stakeholders. This comprehensive agreement seeks to streamline processes, enhance coordination, and fortify efforts in safeguarding the welfare of OFWs and their balikbayan boxes.
Recognizing the importance of an informed and empowered OFW community, the BOC will intensify an information campaign through various social media platforms. Additionally, the bureau will collaborate with the DMW to include comprehensive information about balikbayan box importation in the agency’s training program for OFWs. This initiative aims to educate OFWs about their rights, responsibilities, and ways to protect their balikbayan boxes during shipping.
Furthermore, the BOC is taking proactive measures by drafting a Customs Memorandum Order, which mandates the registration of deconsolidators with the BOC. This measure, along with the payment of a performance bond worth P2 million, will ensure that responsible parties are held accountable and that the handling of balikbayan boxes is carried out with the utmost care and efficiency.
In recognition of the BOC’s commitment to assist OFWs and expedite the release of their balikbayan boxes, Executive Secretary Lucas P. Bersamin commends the bureau’s dedication and perseverance. He also expresses admiration for the BOC’s comprehensive and forward-looking action plans and policies aimed at effectively addressing the issue of balikbayan boxes.
Executive Secretary Bersamin further extends his support to the BOC’s endeavors to ensure the release and address the problem of balikbayan boxes of OFWs.
Despite existing limitations, the BOC’s efforts under the stewardship of Commissioner Bienvenido Y. Rubio stand as a testament to their genuine concern for the welfare of OFWs and their families, exemplifying their dedication in delivering efficient and reliable service.#