Smugglers take advantage of new Customs law
MANILA - At least 10 high-powered firearms from the United States were recently smuggled into the country via a balikbayan box, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said Thursday.
BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said they intercepted the firearms at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) two weeks ago, in coordination with the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Several suspected smugglers were arrested during the controlled delivery operation, he said.
Faeldon noted that the suspects took advantage of the new Customs Modernization and Tariff Act that raised the tax-exempt value of balikbayan boxes from P10,000 to P150,000.
He implored the public to respect the law that aims to omit the taxes that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) shoulder when they send packages to their families back home
"I am appealing to the Filipino people, huwag ninyong bastusin ang batas. Bago pa lang ito, ang ganda nitong programa para sa ating OFWs, ginagamit niyo agad para mag-smuggle ng high-powered firearms," he said.
(I am appealing to the Filipino people not to disrespect the law. This has just been signed and will benefit our OFWs, but you're already abusing it to smuggle high-powered firearms.)
Faeldon warned that authorities may impose more stringent inspections of balikbayan boxes if unscrupulous traders continue using them to smuggle contraband items.
Under the Aquino administration, the BOC conducted random inspections of balikbayan boxes to check for smuggled goods and undervalued and undeclared items.
Government shelved a plan for randomly opening balikbayan after it drew a flurry of negative reactions.-- With a report from Dennis Datu, DZMM