(Bureau of Customs logo)

(Bureau of Customs logo)

MANILA, Aug 25 (Mabuhay) — Bureau of Customs (BO) Commissioner Alberto Lina on Tuesday said the agency will seek the help of freight forwarders after President Benigno Aquino III order the bureau to push back the implementation of the random physical inspection on balikbayan boxes.

In a statement, Lina said the BOC “will follow the President’s directive on balikbayan boxes effective immediately.”

“Instead of random physical inspections, we will do a mandatory X-ray examination of containers of consolidated shipments and balikbayan boxes at no cost to the sender or OFW,” he added.

Lina asked forwarding companies to install their own X-ray machines in warehouses based on BOC specifications to expedite the clearance of balikbayan boxes from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), while protecting Philippine borders from contraband and smuggled items.

The BOC is looking at the possibility of an emergency procurement to acquire K9 units and additional CCTV cameras to be installed at the ports.

On Monday afternoon, Aquino met with Lina and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima as the move to conduct physical inspections on balikbayan boxes drew flak from OFWs.

The President instructed them to stop the measure.

Lina cited the President’s directive that physical inspection should only be done if X-ray and K-9 examinations give rise to suspicions that a particular box contains prohibited items.

If the need arises, the BOC should request for the presence of an Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) representative or an OFW Association or a designated officer, the President said.

Inspection areas must be provided with CCTV to monitor the process. (MNS)