I’ve been suffering from writer’s block for a long time already. So for the meantime, my seventeen-year-old niece Helenna Beatrice Órgano y Alas, an engineering student from the country’s oldest university, is taking over. Here’s her no-holds-barred piece against the Bureau of Customs’ controversial decision last month to strictly inspect our balicbayan‘s gift of love to their families…
Most of us, if not all of us, are already aware of what’s happening with the issue on the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). If there’s one thing that OFWs have a grudge on, it’s probably about the BOC’s ‘dirty work. There are three main reasons which I think why the workers abroad got furious about: the BOC not just doing the usual X-ray and K-9 checking; OFWs are not given even a single notice that something’s happening with their boxes not until a ‘kapamilya’ reports it to them; and of course, the fact that some items — branded and original — were sold at a reasonable rate.
BOC, sometimes derisively called the ‘training center for corrupts,’ is a Philippine government agency under the Department of Finance. They are the ones who are in charge of this issue’s “matter” — the “balikbayan box”. Most of the loved ones of OFWs who are residing here in our country are trying to reach out to the government because of this indecent acts showed by BOC laborers. This indecent act I’m talking about is the examination of the items inside a balikbayan box. Anyone with a good morality and ‘delicadeza‘ would not open the box because it belongs to the family of the overseas worker and was bought with earnings of the worker.
Some OFW might still be clueless of what’s happening with their ‘love in a box’ here in our country until a relative or a family member claims the box. A close cousin of mine happens to work in Singapore and we all know that the cost of living there is just so much. She bought a branded bag there and was delivered here, but she was informed by her mother that upon claiming the bag, the BOC said that they will not give it to her unless she buys it with an already discounted price, at least for the BOC to know that the item was really addressed for the mother. And the tax was already paid there, but the BOC still inputs the tax with the price. Airport Customs Deputy Collector for Operations confirmed their act, saying that no matter where the item was bought, no matter who brought it here, if it is bought abroad and was delivered in the Philippines it will still be taxed. As for the OFW who bought the items and paid for the tax abroad, it is really exasperating.
For the record, it’s still not the sickest thing I could know about the BOC’s foul deeds, but this. If family members won’t claim it in the exact office of the BOC, it will not be given to them or even contacting the family so that they’ll know that the package is already waiting for them, if not to be delivered in their homes. It’s either the BOC laborers will own them or sell the items inside a box. It’s a very impure act, right? And not just that, but because they already have checked the item, be it branded and original or not, they will sell some of them with the actual price. People nowadays are very insensitive of the feelings of others. Maybe some our workers abroad are expecting that his family is already experiencing the joy brought about by the ‘love in a box’ they earned from hardwork and inspiration, but when in reality, the ‘Buwayas’ in the BOC are the ones who get to taste their own idea of bliss.