MANILA (Mabuhay) — Senator Nancy Binay believes it was Malacañang that gave the instruction to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to implement the random inspection of balikbayan boxes.
In a statement, Binay said Customs chief Alberto Lina may just be following the directive from his superiors.
“Chairman Lina is a good soldier and may just be following orders from his bosses. Matagal nang pinag-iinitan ng Palasyo ang OFWs (overseas Filipino workers),” Binay said.
The senator recalled how Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda supposedly said that the government “does not gain anything” from the remittances of OFWs.
“Ang policy na ito ay isang patunay na manhid at palpak ang administrasyong ito, bukod sa anti-OFW,” Binay said echoing the sentiments of his father, Vice President Jejomar Binay.
In a Facebook post over the weekend, Lacierda denied having issued such a statement.
“There is obviously a nefarious gnome trying to instigate the OFWs to be in conflict with this government,” he said.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. belied Binay’s claim, pointing out that the BOC’s proposed policy on balikbayan boxes was meant to fight illegal smuggling, and not to adversely affect OFWs.
“Walang katotohanan at walang batayan ang paratang na ‘yan. Batid natin na nagpahayag si Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina ng obserbasyon na pinagsasamantalahan ng ilang sektor ‘yung paggamit ng mga balikbayan box. Kaya’t sa simula’t sapul ang kanya namang perspektibo ay ‘yung sa aspekto ng mga nagsasamantala at ‘yung gumagamit para sa iligal na layunin,” Coloma told reporters at a press briefing
Meanwhile, Senator Binay has joined other lawmakers in pushing for a legislative inquiry on the BOC’s new policy.
Senators Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor Santiago had earlier filed similar resolutions calling for a Senate investigation.
On Monday, President Benigno Aquino III ordered the BOC to stop the physical inspections of balikbayan boxes unless X-ray and K-9 examinations give rise to suspicions that they contain prohibited items.
If Customs deems that a physical inspection is necessary, Aquino said it should request that an Overseas Workers Welfare Administration representative or a designated officer of an OFW Association be present with provisions for CCTV monitoring of the inspection areas. (MNS)