Press Release
September 27, 2016

Pimentel seeks to institutionalize "no opening" of balikbayan box policy

On the average, loved ones and relatives of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) receive some 400,000 balikbayan boxes every month.

If Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III will have his way, a permanent "no opening" policy on balikbayan boxes should be adopted in recognition of the OFWs' significant contribution to the national economy.

The balikbayan box "represents the love and care of OFWs for their families," said Pimentel after filing recently Senate Bill No. 1168 to institutionalize the "expanded balikbayan program," amending for the purpose Republic Act No. 6768, as amended by R.A. 9174, and for other purposes.

He called the proposed legislation "a small measure of assistance in view of the tireless efforts of our OFWs, who work selflessly abroad and endure long separation and loneliness from their loved ones."

He said balikbayan boxes would only be subjected to non-intrusive methods of inspection by the Bureau of Customs, using trained canine units, x-ray and inspection systems or other similar technologies.

There are only two instances when BOC personnel could open the boxes, he said in his bill. One, when the consignor's export declaration and packing list are not attached, and another, when alerts are issued by authorities alleging banned, prohibited or regulated items.

When approved, the law would also exempt from taxes and duties one balikbayan box for every OFW per month regardless, Pimentel said, of the "total dutiable value of its contents."

He said the Senate must make certain that "our prevailing legislation would help augment not only the lives of our OFWs, but also of their families who are left behind."

Personal remittances by OFWs in March this year reached $2.7 billion, higher by 4.3 percent compared to the first quarter last year, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas records.

Government records showed that around 2.377 million OFWs were deployed abroad last year.

"We cannot thus take for granted the crucial role played by our OFWs in helping sustain the continuous development of our economy through the foreign currencies remitted to their families," he said.

Pimentel said the Constitution affirms labor as a primary social economic concern, guaranteeing the protection of the rights of workers and the promotion of their welfare.

News Latest News Feed