Expect Delay for Balikbayan Box Delivery

posted Jul 3, 2011, 11:33 PM by Abe Adriano
Source: Manila Bulletin: http://www.mb.com.ph/node/320021/xray-

X-ray scanning for Balikbayan boxes

May 26, 2011, 5:39pm

MANILA, Philippines — Balikbayan boxes sent by family members and relatives residing or working abroad will now take a longer time to arrive at your doorstep.

In response to a proposal by lawmakers, the Bureau of Customs (BoC) will now require the mandatory X-ray examination of all balikbayan boxes to curb smuggling.

“What is being implemented is more on the physical inspection with the balikbayan boxes. But because of this development, I already issued an order that these should also undergo (X-ray) scanning procedures,” Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez said.

Alvarez was referring to revelations by car dealer Allan Bigcas, suspected of smuggling luxury vehicles and guns, that he was able to bring “chop-chop” vehicle parts into the country via the balikbayan box system.

Balikbayan boxes traces its roots to the Filipino culture of sending items, such as food, clothing, perfume, soaps, and other sundry items to their families here in the Philippines.

Alvarez said Customs inspects hundreds of thousands of balikbayan boxes yearly, lumped in container vans.

With the enormous volume of arrivals from different parts of the world, physical examination of the balikbayan boxes contribute to the congestion at the ports, he added.

With the additional X-ray scanning, “we just have to improve the process of moving forward,” he said.

Alvarez said no additional funding is required for the purchase of more X-ray machines.

Lawmakers in the House pushed for the X-ray examination of balikbayan boxes following Bigcas’ claim that he used the balikbayan system to import the vehicles seized in his custody.

Around 25 luxury vehicles and expensive motorcycles were recovered from his residence in Bukidnon during a joint operation of the National Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

During the congressional probe, Lourdes Mangaoang, Customs X-ray Inspection Project (XIP) head, said balikbayan boxes are not scanned by their X-ray machines because these are categorized as Consolidated Shipments.

"No balikbayan or door-to-door deliveries pass the X-ray machine because they are called Consolidated Shipments, and as such are filed under the Informal Entry Division. Our Informal Entry Division is not yet covered by our Electronic Selectivity System," said Mangaoang.


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