Press Release
September 8, 2015

As Customs sets 2016 seizure targets, Recto wants clear rules on OFW boxes

One in seven incoming shipments that will be inspected by the Bureau of Customs (BoC) next year could be seized, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto said, citing the agency's performance target for 2016.

Recto said that in the proposed 2016 national budget, BoC stated as one of its goals a 15 percent seizure rate of "shipments selected and physically examined or X-rayed."

"This doesn't mean though that it will inspect all incoming cargo. What BoC is saying is that of the number of shipments flagged for inspection, about 15 percent will be seized," Recto clarified.

All agencies now attach "performance indicators" to their budget request, a scheme to match funding allocations with measurable deliverables.

For 2016, the BoC has a proposed P3.2 billion budget.

Recto suggested that the BoC include as its performance target "the maximum number of days within which a balikbayan box will be released from the day it arrives in a Philippine port."

"Kung mayroong target ang BoC sa seizures, dapat may pledge din sila kung ilan ang maximum na bilang ng araw dapat manatili ang isang balikbayan box sa pantalan," Recto said.

"Sa tingin ko ay dapat ilagay nila doon ang ilang performance targets sa balikbayan boxes, na dapat hindi maburo ito sa Customs," he said.

"Ito siguro ang kulang sa kanilang performance pledges sa darating na taon," Recto said.

He noted that the BoC has pledged that "the baggage of arriving international passengers and crew will be processed within 30 minutes of their presentation to the Customs."

But Recto explained that "the impression we're getting is that a very, very small number of incoming passengers and OFWs will be subjected to baggage inspection as a result of the establishment of 'Nothing to Declare' lanes in all of the country's airports."

"It is now taxation by confession. Kung wala kang idedeklara, sa green lane ka dadaan," Recto said.

Despite this, the BoC, he said, is still targeting 6,000 airport inspections next year which will result in "the detection of irregularities."

"Pero maliit na ito kung ihahambing sa 18 million na pumapasok na pasahero taun-taon. Sana kung mayroong inspection, ito ay batay sa tip na merong droga o baril na papasok, at hindi random na ang mahahalughog lang ay mga lehitimong pasalubong sa mga mahal nila sa buhay," Recto said.

Recto said "the probability of irregularities is always high if we do not increase the maximum tax -exempt value of personal belongings that a returning national can bring home."

Present regulations cap at P10,000 the value of goods that a balikbayan can bring home with him.

In his Balikbayan Box Bill (BBL), Recto wants this raised to $2,000 and which will cover cargo shipped, mailed, or handcarried.

Among other "performance targets" of the BoC for 2016 are:

  • 100 percent customer satisfaction rate;

  • 100 percent of goods cleared for release within 10 days from filing of import declaration.

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