Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Monday the Bureau of Customs should be “circumspect” in its announced plans to subject overseas Filipino workers’ “balikbayan” boxes to more intensive inspection than before.
In a statement, De Lima acknowledged the power of the BOC — the guardians of the country’s trading gates — to inspect and apprehend contraband or illegal and prohibited goods upon their entry in Philippine ports. “Thus, the discretion largely rests upon them and the Department of Finance. But again, they should be circumspect so as not to antagonize the feelings of our OFW countrymen and their families since the OFWs have already been used to this traditional practice of minimal BOC scrutiny on personal imported packages so long as these were not in commercial quantities,” she said.
The BOC, she added, “must point out to a change in circumstance that now demands a change in the policy, otherwise the same may appear arbitrary in light of the accustomed minimal inspection the OFWs have already been used to.”