Thursday, August 27, 2015

Groups push through with protest despite halt in balikbayan box inspections

Pro-OFW groups on Wednesday pushed through with their protest despite President Benigno Aquino III's decision to stop the Bureau of Customs' controversial new policy to manually inspect random balikbayan boxes.

A report on GMA News TV's "Balita Pilipinas" said members of Migrante International and women's group Gabriela held a rally in Manila to demand better service and OFW protection from the BoC instead of higher taxes on goods shipped through balikbayan boxes.

Migrante chairperson Connie Bragas-Regalado also asked the BOC to refrain from adding to the burdens of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), as she described the aborted inspection policy as another way for the bureau to milk money from migrant workers.

The report said the group is suspicious of the BoC's supposed goal of recovering the P600 million lost due to smuggling through the fees it planned to impose on balikbayan boxes.

International chapters of Migrante will attempt a "zero-remittance day" on Friday to continue their protest.

Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero commented on Wednesday that the move may cost the country P3.1 billion in remittances.

However, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. pointed out that similar actions in the yielded no negative effects on the economy, as he remained confident that OFWs would not neglect the needs of their families. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News 

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