The latest Customs Memorandum Order 04-2017 has been condemned by the migrant workers’ group Migrante International.
The 22-page directive signed by Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon on Jan. 20, 2017 requires balikbayan boxes to include an itemized list of contents and receipts of newly-purchased items in the box. Also required are proof of relationship of recipients to the senders, three copies of information sheets of sender and recipients, shipment details, biographical page of their Philippine passport, copy of invoice, and receipts of payment for the goods contained in the balikbayan box.
Migrante International spokesperson Arman Hernando said the order only aims to justify tax impositions and other fund-generating requirements from OFWs and families. He said balikbayan boxes usually contain gifts for family members, which he described as the most personalized translation of love and affection for its recipients. He added that the government should instead make sure that the balikbayan box is not burdened by unnecessary requirements and money-making schemes at the expense of OFWs and their families.