Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Balikbayan Box: Stop Desecrating Our Personal Gifts to Our Loved Ones

Wazzup Pilipinas!
"Balikbayan boxes are often channels of private and personal communication between migrant workers and their families in the Philippines. Is nothing sacred anymore for the Bureau of Customs?" - Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago
There are many people that are so violently reacting about the "Balikbayan Boxes" issue which led the government to finally blink! You can't really win in a staring contest against a fog lamp! Now, President Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III has told the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to stop the random inspection and “establish a more defined protocol” to clamp down “balikbayan” boxes that are being used for smuggling.

Remember that the government may have some evil entities (like those that can be found at the BOC and other agencies that have access to so many temptations), but many are still honest and hardworking (hopefully). Not all of them deserve a raised eyebrow when they implement something new.

The littlest effort that an agency does should positively be seen as a counter-measure against whatever negative acts like smuggling or anything similarly damaging to the people, the government and the country. Whether it affects the little or big players, it doesn't really matter since it is everyone's job to deter all kinds of illegal acts.

If we find the newly established procedure intimidating or desecrating, we have every right to let these agencies know, but we should not be accusing but only airing our belief and recommendations. Antagonizing the agency may only lead to further retaliation instead of cooperation.

"Those Balikbayan boxes are sacred. They are an expression of love and affection , nobody should be allowed to make a mockery of this sentitmental bond between an OFWs and his family back home......" - Mayor Rodrigo Duterte
Also, all big things start small, so it is not really an issue if they also become strict in scrutinizing what comes into our country. There are just some people that take advantage of the leniency so they abuse and overuse.

"Aren't there X-rays and all to check on these baggage without opening them. You cannot plead over the emotions of those who worked hard to be able to send something to their family. The problem is our leaders don't understand that the dignity of those sending these Balikbayan boxes are trampled. How low can our workers get. Now for smuggling...come on, I am sure meron. Pero kilala nyo din naman kung sino sino. Puro palusot." - Eric Tan
"No problem with compliance, but please guarantee that your in-house burglars WON'T steal by stealth while our boxes are in your custody. Can I suggest a scanner instead of manual checkers?  Because it is harder and more expensive to go after the big time smugglers...The Philippine Bureau of Customs decides to hit honest living OFWs instead." - Belen Inal Banerjee
The government may not be doing a great job in deterring the big-time smugglers, but that doesn't mean they should go easy on the small-timers. Both are still crooks by any definition.

"We need fair regulations governing balikbayan boxes. Customs making it official policy to open packages will exacerbate the already rampant problem of lost items (even entire boxes) and delays. Issues that need to be reviewed should include:
1. Value allowed: The current $500 maximum no longer makes sense, considering the high cost of goods. If you want to send a $450 laptop, what do you do, fill the box with... $50 worth of bubble wrap?
2. Distinction between commercial and personal: A recent news report (see video clip) showed how eager a customs officer wanted to tax a brand new, scratch-free refrigerator. Who sends a refrigerator for a commercial reason? Every overseas Filipino I know who sends appliances do it for personal use, which should not be taxed. Certainly, we should tax commercial shippers, but they can be easily detected through a basic tracking system (multiple refrigerators shipped to and/or from one address will be obviously suspicious), and use x-ray machines to detect guns or high-value spare parts. For drugs and other illegal substances, drug-sniffing dogs will be a strong deterrent. There's no need to slash open boxes of personal goods. 
3. Fly-by-night vs. reputable shippers: Honest companies have a stake in ensuring the system is not abused by smugglers. Customs should spend more time checking the integrity of shippers rather than checking the sides and edges of refrigerators and other appliances for scratches.

Overseas Filipinos remit more than $25 billion a year (that's 10% of GDP), boosting the economy by fueling consumption and by bolstering the country's currency reserves, which is now up to $80 billion. They are real heroes, and those precious boxes they send contain what is tantamount to blood, sweat, and tears that they thoughtfully package for their loved ones. The least the government can do is to treat them (and the fruits of their hard work) with decency and fairness." - Marvin Bionat

"My take on this matter.

Disclaimer: I'm not an economist but a citizen who's affected by this new policy. The words I used aren't usually part of my vocabulary, but if you're Filipino like me, you'll know where I'm coming from.

The Philippine Government may have realized that if they discourage the OFW's and all the Filipinos living abroad from sending their "Goodie Boxes" to the Philippines, then it is more likely that these poor hardworking citizens will resort to sendin...g money back home instead.
The hard-earned money they send to their families is going to be spent in the country. Which only means that it will circulate within its own economy. The Government is being harshly practical --or should I say greedy-- ignoring the efforts of the "New Heroes" who helped boost its faltering economy. Otherwise, they shouldn't have come up with this plan to demoralize the Filipino Spirit that barely survives the corruption and malpractice in a place controlled and guarded by hungry vultures and crocs who want to get bigger.
I send goodie boxes too. And it is bothering me that the so called honorable officials are ok with this horrible practice. It's a total disrespect and greed!

*Take note that the Phillipines is one of the top 5 remittance recipient countries. Less boxes sent could only mean more money will be sent instead.

On a positive note, instead of sending a box, why not buy a plane ticket instead and spend time with your family?" - Dk Tijam

We complained a lot when another country sent their trash to the Philippines, but we rarely call the attention of those who aimlessly throw away their cigarette butts, bus tickets, candy wrappers, etc., in our streets.

"I just don't get the point why we want our government to do something on the corruption in Bureau of Customs when in fact most of us are not honest enough in disclosing what's inside our balikbayan boxes. We want to stop corruption in BOC yet we failed to recognize our contributions to this corrupted system. Maybe it's time to start a transparent transaction that we all wanted...therefore let's not be resistant to these changes (technically not a change but implementation of an existing policy). 
It's time to ask ourselves --- do we really want change? If yes, then let us be catalysts for positive change.

Love me or hate me but this is my take. And yours? Surely you'll get my utmost respect and understanding. Thanks!" - Tyron Dela Cruz Mesario
In other words, we should not tolerate the wrongdoings of our own countrymen even if it seems so small and insignificant. If you combine all of them, it also sums up to one big hunk of garbage.

We are all aware of how we try to cheat the system using our own little schemes. Be aware that if we continue to do so, we would eventually reap a stinky but just reward.

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