Stop corruption at the Bureau of Customs

Stop corruption at the Bureau of Customs

IT is very disgusting to learn that the Bureau of Customs (BoC) allowed the release of big shipments of shabu originating from China. The shabu shipment amounted to P6.4 Billion or US126 Million. The shipment of 604 kilos of illegal drugs composed of 605 bags of shabu stuffed into 5 cylinders declared as kitchenware. Worst, the shabu shipment passed through express lane or the green lane which do not need further investigation, x-ray or physical inspection allegedly because it has complete and accurate documents. The shabu shipment finds its way to a warehouse in Valenzuela City.

The consignee of the shipment EMT Trading with Eirene Mae Agustino Tatad as the proprietor was able to go through the green lane when it was only a first time importer. The man behind the shipment is Richard Tan, the owner of the company Hong Fei. The broker Mark Ruben Taguba II claimed that he was contacted by Kenneth Dong on behalf of Richard Tan.
Before the Blue Ribbon Committee of the Senate hearing ended, broker Taguba requested for an executive session; he was given security protection. Whether or not Taguba is telling the truth is for the Committee headed by Sen. Richard Gordon to decide. As Sen. Gordon stated, it shows the incompetence of the BoC personnel, or if they were not incompetent, they are plain and simple corrupt people.

BoC Chief Nicanor Faeldon already suspended Larribert Hilario, Chief of Risk Management Office (RMO) who has gone missing. Subpoenas were already issued by the Senate to Hilario, Tan and Dong.

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How the BoC can release without inspection the 604 kilos of shipment is beyond my comprehension. As it is, the shipment turned out to be a big shipment of shabu amounting to P6.4 Billion. And yet, the BoC continues to give a hard time on the modern heroes of the country, the hardworking Overseas Filipino Workers or OFW’s who have been sending balikbayan boxes to their families in the Philippines. What is 30 kilos balikbayan box compared to 604 kilos shipment now being investigated by the Senate?

The BoC’s new requirements to OFWs who send balikbayan boxes are not only unreasonable but also a big temptation to persons who are corrupt.

First – OFW’s resort to sending balikbayan boxes to their families because the airlines’ baggage requirement limits them to carry only 50 pounds or 23 kilos when they return to the Philippines or when they go on vacation. What can they bring to their families with such limited baggage?

Second – The BoC requires the OFWs to paste outside the box the list of the contents of the balikbayan box. It would not take a rocket scientist to say that it is the biggest temptation to whoever may see the list to open the balikbayan box and get the valuable contents therein. From the place of original shipment, it goes to the forwarder, to the BoC, to the warehouse of the correspondent-forwarder. From then on, the balikbayan box is no longer in safe hands because so many people would have known the contents of the balikbayan box.

Third – The OFWs must attach the purchase receipts of the contents of the balikbayan box. What if the OFWs did not purchase the items like dresses, towels, shirts, shoes, bags, hats but were given only by friends, by employers or are “hand me downs” of the OFWs that instead of using them or throwing them away, they rather give them to the family members.

Fourth – Why limit the contents of the box for the family members only. The Filipino culture is an “extended families”. The family of the brothers and sisters stay in the same house with the other members of the family. Does that mean that OFWs cannot give to his/her nephews, nieces, grandchildren, uncles and aunties who are more than 4th degree of consanguinity? Whenever an OFW comes home, even neighbors and friends are expecting something or “pasalubong” from the OFWs.

What’s more, does it mean that OFWs cannot send balikbayan boxes to victims of man-made and natural calamities like the Marawi people and the military and police who are fighting in the battlefield? How about the victims of earthquake, typhoon, floods, etc. Does it mean the OFWs are prevented from helping their fellowmen who are in dire need?

Fifth – Everybody raised hell when balikbayan boxes were opened by the BoC during the Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s

Administration. Why is it being repeated during Pres. Digong Duterte’s administration?

Sixth – The BoC should bear in mind that in every room in the foreign country where the OFWs reside, there is always an empty balikbayan box where they could place anything that they think would be of use to their families back home. Whenever there is a sale in department stores, they would set aside part of their salaries so that they can buy things which they want their family members to have.

Please, let us take pity on the OFWs, our modern day heroes, without whom our dollar reserves would not have increased; without these dollar reserves, the Philippine economy will dip to its lowest level. BoC, think twice before punishing the OFWs.

Do not do this to the OFWs; why not do it to the big time shabu smugglers like EMT Trading, Kenneth Dong and Richard Tan.

Thanks to Sen. Ralph Recto for bringing out these requirements by the BoC. We hope that Sen.Recto would do something to put a stop to what the BoC is doing against the OFWs.

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Happy Birthday to our hardworking senator and friend Richard Gordon and Marilou Reyes of the Diocese of Kalookan. Praying for your good health and more birthdays to come.