Senator Sonny Angara has reminded the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to strictly implement the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) that mandates a less intrusive examination of balikbayan boxes brought into the country.

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

“We pushed for the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act in response to the complaints of our OFWs and their families.”

Under the implementing rules on balikbayan boxes, all deconsolidators must establish its own customs facility and warehouse equipped with closed circuit television(CCTV) systems and baggage X-ray machines for the examination of balikbayan boxes. All baggage X-ray facilities shall be under the control and supervision of the BOC, and only trained BOC personnel shall be allowed to operate the baggage X-ray machines.

“The Bureau of Customs should strictly implement the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.”

“We are hopeful that with this law in place, this will never happen again. 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,” added the seasoned lawmaker, who sponsored the CMTA or Republic Act 10863, which also provides for higher tax exemption on balikbayan boxes.

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

Before the CMTA was enacted in 2016, 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 of this year. The 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, overseas employment certificate or OWWA 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,” the veteran lawmaker said.

 

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