Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina on Friday assured overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that no additional taxes will be imposed on balikbayan boxes to recover the government's P6 million daily losses due to smuggling.
"Wala namang dagdag na buwis. Hindi pupwedeng may dagdag na buwis," Lina said at a press event.
At present, shipment with contents worth P10,000 and below are exempted from taxes.
"'Di naman magbabago 'yun unless... aakyat tayo sa Congress para humingi tayo ng additional o dagdag," Lina said.
Several bills have been filed in Congress seeking to increase the current allowed value of the contents of balikbayan box exempt from taxes.
"Leave it to our Congress people to set those limits. Mahirap naman kung kami [ang] mag-implement. Let them do it," Lina said.
The Bureau of Customs, reputed as one of the most corrupt government agencies, has to recently scrapped its plan to manually and randomly inspect balikbayan boxes — supposedly to curb technical smuggling — upon orders from President Benigno Aquino III and after it drew flak from OFWs.
"The directive of the president, dalawa lang 'yung focus doon. As much as possible, walang physical inspections. Susundin namin 'yun," said Commissioner for the Internal Administration Group Arturo Lachica in the same event.
Lachica also said freight forwarders shouldered all fees attached to consolidated cargos, countering earlier claims by militant pro-OFW groups that migrants workers paid for the fees.
"Hindi po nagbabayad nito [ang) balikbayan. Mga forwarders yung sinisingil. That's what we collect from the forwarders. They have to undergo processes," he said. —KBK, GMA News