OFWs sending fewer balikbayan boxes amid transport fears
It took OFW Ricardo Mendigo two years to save for the items that he intends to send to his loved ones in the Philippines this Christmas.
But after hearing reports of items being stolen from balikbayan boxes once they land in Philippine ports, Mendigo, who works in Paris, decided against sending the packages.
"Hindi bale na ito matengga dito kesa pakinabangan ng ibang tao," Mendigo said in Mariz Umali's report on "24 Oras" on Wednesday.
The report said some OFWs in Hong Kong have expressed the same sentiment.
In the Philippines, freight forwarders are reporting less business this year especially after the Bureau of Customs (BOC) bared its plan last August to manually inspect balikbayan boxes, supposedly as a measure to curb technical smuggling.
"Kami, lugi kami rito sa Pilipinas dahil wala kaming shipment na natatanggap," a local freight forwarder and customs broker said in the report.
The report quoted the freight forwarder as saying that this year, they only receive an average of five shipping containers of balikbayan boxes a week compared to 10 they received in the same period last year.
In Clark, from 4,636 balikbayan boxes the BOC received last August, it went down to 2,768 in September, the report said.
This, despite the fact that the BOC has abandoned its plan to physically inspect balikbayan boxes following an order from President Benigno Aquino III.
The BOC, however, said not all ports reported fewer balikbayan boxes being sent in the past couple of months. It said Port of Manila logged 2,031 boxes in August and 3,506 in September, while Manila International Container Port had 897 boxes in August and 1,031 in September.
"I would say there's no marked decrease in the number of containers that we received for balikbayan boxes," BOC Deputy Commissioner Arturo Lachica said in the report.
The report said some cargo forwarders have confirmed this.
Lachica reiterated that they would no longer manually inspect boxes. "We made that assurance. We have already said that we don't manually inspect balikbayan boxes," he said. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News