Several remittance centers in the Philippines on Friday felt the effects of the "zero-remittance" protest by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) condemning recent actions by the Bureau of Customs (BoC).
A report on "24 Oras" said several remittance centers in Quezon City and Ilocos Norte reported little to zero transactions Friday morning.
"Local pa lang kami ngayon, wala pang na-encounter this day na galing abroad," Tambunting appraiser Lea Gatmaytan said.
Cebuana Lhuillier branch manager Jam Pascual said there were fewer transactions on Friday compared to regular days.
"Ngayong araw na 'to, wala masyado, siguro mga sampu lang. Active kaninang umaga. [Pag regular days] marami talaga, 17," she said.
Despite this, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma stated that it was unrealistic to expect all Filipinos to participate in the protest, as not all OFWs are convinced of the protest's efficacy.
"Realistiko bang isipin na lahat ng halos 10 milyong OFWs ay naniniwala o lalahok sa ganitong protesta? Naniniwala kami sa pagiging makatuwiran ng ating mga OFWs na hindi basta-bastang lalahok lalo na kung hindi naman sila kumbinsido," Coloma said.
The pro-OFW group Migrante spearheaded the "zero-remittance day" to protest the BoC's plan to manually and randomly inspect balikbayan boxes supposedly to curb technical smuggling. The plan has been scrapped upon orders from President Benigno Aquino III after it drew flak from OFWs.
Mara Magaspac, the sister of an OFW, said balikbayan boxes should be treated with respect as they symbolized the hard work of Filipino migrant workers.
"Sa simpleng balikbayan box na lang po, 'dun namin nararamdaman yung pagsasama-sama namin muli na parang kumpleto kami. Kung ganun po yung gagawin nila na 'dun pa lang sa Customs ay binubuksan na nila, parang wala na yung esensya na mahal na binilot 'dun sa aming mga kamag-anak," said Magaspac, who joined a protest rally in Mendiola, Manila.
The BOC will implement new guidelines on inspecting balikbayan boxes next week after dropping its plan to manually inspect balikbayan boxes. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News