OFWs to enjoy duties-free ‘balikbayan box’ starting Dec. 25 — BOC

MANILA — The overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) can enjoy duties and taxes-free balikbayan boxes worth less than PHP150,000 beginning December 25, according to the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

“The Bureau of Customs is happy to announce that to our millions of OFWs, starting this Christmas Day, balikbayan boxes with value not exceeding PHP150,000 will be exempt from duties and taxes,” BOC acting spokesperson for enforcement and intelligence operations Neil Anthony Estrella said during Tuesday’s press briefing in Malacanang.

Estrella said the 15-day publication of the implementing rules and regulations of the Section 800 (g) of the Customs and Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) will expire on December 25.

He said the BOC and the Department of Finance (DOF) have already signed the Customs Administrative Order 05-2016 which lifts taxes on balikbayan boxes for Qualified Filipinos While Abroad (QFWA).

“Considered QFWA are OFWS, Filipino citizens who are residing abroad and Pinoys who are holders of student, investors, and tourist visas,” Estrella said.

“To be covered by this ruling, balikbayan boxes shall contain personal and household effects only, and content should not be in commercial quantities or intended for sale,” he added.

Estrella said QFWA can avail of the privilege to a maximum of three times each year.

The BOC official also announced that the bureau has created an online OFW corner which serve as online portal for issues and concerns of the OFWs.

“This is where our OFWs can file any balikbayan box related complaints or questions they have for the Bureau of Customs,” he said.

A link to the OFW corner may be found at the uppermost part of our website, customs.gov.ph.

Estrella also announced that BOC commissioner Nicanor Faeldon has directed all the bureau officials and employees to maintain heightened alert against illegal smuggling of goods in the country.

He said Faeldon has issued a memorandum in compliance with Republic Act No. 7183 which prohibits the importation of finished firecrackers and fireworks.

“Only importation of ingredients in making workers is allowed by law, provided it also has accompanying documents and permits,” Estrella said.

“This memorandum was released after the Bureau of Customs was blamed for the proliferation of smuggled firecrackers, being circulated and distributed locally,” he added.

In related development, Estrella said the BOC operatives seized 20 20-footer containers containing rice and other items worth PHP40 million last December 16 and PHP700 million worth of smuggled fuel last December 18.

“All these efforts are in pursuant to the instructions of President Rodrigo Duterte to the Bureau of Custom in his fight against corruption and smuggling,” Estrella said.

Since Faeldon assumed office five months ago, Estrella said the BOC was able to seize nearly PHP2 billion worth of illegal drugs. PNA-northboundasia.com