Aquino halts random inspection of balikbayan boxes

In a meeting with the Secretary of Finance and the Commissioner of Customs Monday afternoon, President Aquino emphasized that OFW families view the balikbayan box as an integral part of the family relationship to nurture loved ones at home and as a tangible sign of their love and concern for their family members.

To ensure that inspection of balikbayan boxes are being done maximizing public safety while assuring the broader public that their boxes are not subject to unauthorized tampering, President Aquino instructed the Customs not to randomly or arbitrarily inspect balikbayan boxes.

Aquino further instructed the Customs that all containers of balikbayan boxes should undergo mandatory x-ray and K-9 examination at no cost to the sender or the OFW.

In cases where there are derogatory findings from the x-ray or K-9 examination there will be a physical inspection of goods but the Customs will request that an Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) representative or a designated officer of an OFW Association be present, with provisions for CCTV monitoring of the inspection areas.

“Employees who violate these protocols and engage in pilferage will be prosecuted and punished,” the Department of Finance said. “In the coming days, the Bureau of Customs will be holding a demonstration or walkthrough of this system for the media so that the public can see how it works.”