Home » Customs & Trade » Philippine customs starts greater scrutiny of balikbayan boxes

THE Philippine Bureau of Customs’ (BOC) recent decision to subject balikbayan (personal effects) boxes to scanning is another of the agency’s anti-smuggling initiatives, according to BOC x-ray scanning chief Atty. Lourdes Mangaoang.

An estimated 1,000 containers containing 400 balikbayan boxes arrive in the country every month.

BOC began imposing the measure last month to prevent a repeat of an incident involving businessman Lynard Allan Bigcas who smuggled luxury vehicles by dismantling them then shipping the parts in balikbayan boxes.

“The agency started scanning all incoming balikbayan boxes as early last month at the height of the issue of Lynard Alan Bigcas, the alleged smuggler of luxury vehicles,” Mangaoang noted.

“These balikbayan boxes are supposed to be personal effects. They do not have to arrive immediately unlike raw materials for the production of electronics, thus (scanning balikbayan boxes) will not affect the country’s trade facilitation procedures.”

BOC has partnered with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for the activity. PDEA’s K-9 units will randomly inspect, search and examine incoming mails, parcels and balikbayan boxes from high-risk countries. K-9 units will be housed in BOC premises within the ports.

At the moment, there are 30 scanning machines installed at primary and secondary ports nationwide. The Manila International Container Port and the Port of Manila each have four scanners, two dedicated for export cargo and two for imports.

BOC scanning procedures require payment of a container security fee of $5 for every twenty-footer and $10 for every forty-footer.

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