Complaints of violating Sections 3601 and 3602 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines were filed against Zenaida Valencia, Jennifer Valencia, Edward Ochave, Clarisse Karingal, Genevieve Ochave and Edmund Discutido before the Justice Department. The case stemmed from the entry of six Balikbayan Boxes from Bahrain last August. These were shipped on the same flight and on the same day through Forex U-Mac Bahrain and its counterpart, U-Mac Forex Cargo Philippines. The boxes were declared to contain personal effects such as shoes and clothing, beddings, groceries, candies and chocolates. However, derogatory information from the Bureau’s Intelligence Group prompted the 100% physical inspection of the boxes, revealing the watches inside. The misdeclaration was intended to evade payment of duties and taxes amounting to over P1-Million.
“While we recognize that the Balikbayan Box is vital to millions of overseas Filipinos and their families in the Philippines, we cannot allow the abuse and misuse of this privilege to bring in goods of commercial quantity or contraband items. Let this be a lesson to traders and sellers that by illegally concealing items meant for sale or prohibited items, you are not only taking risk by getting caught but you also delay other Balikbayan Boxes that are in the same batch,” said Customs Commissioner John P. Sevilla.
Since 2001, the Bureau has continually revamped its process for monitoring and inspecting Balikbayan Boxes following revelations that these have been used to bring-in illegal items such as car parts and accessories, goods for sale and regulated drugs.