BOC to OFWs: patronize legit forwarding companies only

Maris Federez   •   October 8, 2019   •   545

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Tuesday (October 8) advised overseas Filipino workers (OFW) to send balikbayan boxes through legitimate forwarding companies only.

The customs bureau issued the warning in light of the expected influx of balikbayan boxes that OFWs will send to their families these BER months.

Customs assistant commissioner Atty. Vincent Philippi Maronilla said they will install modern x-ray scanners in all the container ports in the country to determine the contents of the balikbayan boxes faster.

The BOC said availing of the services of legitimate forwarding companies will prevent hitches from happening.

“Ang suggestion namin pumili sila ng mga kumpanya na reptuble na. Meaning iyong mga may customer service hotline, may natatawagan sila kapag nagkaproblema,” said Maronilla.

The BOC also stressed that they are strictly implementing the “No Open Policy” on balikbayan boxes.

“Never po na ang Customs nagbubukas ng balikbayan box,” he added.

The customs bureau also reminded the OFWs to only put an adequate number of items inside the box, and that these items, such as soaps, chocolates, and gadgets are not for commercial use.

The BOC further said that the maximum total amount of items in the balikbayan boxes that will be tax-free is only up to P150,000.

The exceeding amount will carry applicable tax rates.

The customs bureau urges the concerned individuals to forward their complaints and queries to any of the following BOC hotlines and website:

  • HOTLINE- (632) 705- 6000
  • MOBILE NOS. 0905- 299-7977/ 0929- 503- 5138
  • EMAIL:

 (from the report of Aiko Miguel) /mbmf

Over 500K OFWs repatriated amid COVID-19 pandemic – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – More than half a million overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who were displaced by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have been repatriated by the government, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.

Citing a report from Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) head Hans Leo Cacdac, DOLE said 502,581 Filipino repatriates have been safely transported back to their home provinces after undergoing COVID-19 tests and quarantine protocols in various hotels.

The latest batch of repatriates consisted of 1,471 OFWs who were sent home on Saturday, DOLE said.

Meanwhile, a separate report from DOLE’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) showed there are 645,071 OFWs affected by the pandemic.

Of this number, 627,576 were displaced by the public health crisis. Around 49,698 of them requested repatriation while 75,297 opted to stay on site.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III assured that the government continues to provide assistance to displaced and affected Filipino workers.

So far, DOLE’s Abot Kamay sa Pagtulong (AKAP) assistance program has extended P5.043 billion to 497,122 OFWs.


AKAP is one-time cash assistance of $200 or P10,000 for each qualified affected/displaced OFW.

Aside from AKAP, DOLE also provides financial aid, food and medical aid to COVID infected OFWs.

To date, it has extended a total of $1.93 million in cash assistance to 9,667 OFW COVID patients. Another $2.6 million in medical and food aid has been extended to 124,945 OFWs, DOLE said.

Villanueva calls for review of deployment protocols to curb OFW abuses

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — In order to curb cases of abused Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), Senator Joel Villanueva has proposed the review of protocols on the deployment of workers.

Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, urged the government to continue to engage host countries through bilateral agreements to ensure accountability on the welfare of OFWs. This is for host countries to be accountable for the welfare of OFWs.

“Our Minority Leader made a very clear point: ‘A source of law is culture and no form of bilateral agreement and Philippine domestic law can address that culture, like the Kafala,'” he said on Monday (March 8).

Under the kafala system, a practice observed in Gulf states, the immigration status of migrant workers is legally bound to an employer who acts as the sponsor. This requires workers to obtain consent from employers to enter and exit the country, and even transferring jobs.

The International Labor Organization described the system as the state’s “delegation of responsibility … to the private employer to oversee both a migrant worker’s immigration and employment status.”

Based on the data of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, it showed that 4,302 cases of maltreatment and mistreatment were recorded in the Middle East in 2020, while contract violations surged to 21,127 cases in the same region.

The Senator also emphasized the need to protect women, especially when most countries they are being deployed to are “patriarchal in nature”. Villanueva cited government data that showed at least 56 percent, or 1.2 million, of Filipinos eking out a living in foreign countries are women.

“It is important that though OFW issues should be genderless, a large part of the bill must place protections for our OFWs particularly our women because most countries they are deployed to are patriarchal by nature, and by culture,” he said. -AAC

Duterte prohibits Customs, airport personnel from opening, delaying COVID-19 vaccine supplies

Marje Pelayo   •   February 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte reminded Customs and airport personnel not to open or tamper with the shipment of COVID-19 vaccine supplies.

Likewise, the President stressed that concerned government agencies must not cause any delay in the transportation and distribution of the vaccines.

This was his call during a public address aired Monday night (February 8).

“Let me address every government worker. Lahat tayo. Do not delay and do not hinder or obstruct the smooth flow na nakikita ninyo from the time of the arrival to the time of clearance,” Duterte said.

Maybe ang trabaho lang ninyo Customs, magtingin. You have no business na buksan-buksan dyan. You’re not allowed to do that. I am not allowing you, anybody diyan sa airport na magbukas bukas,” he added.

The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to arrive next week.

Meanwhile, the President has authorized the Philippine National Police (PNP) to deploy its men to ensure the safe and fast transport of vaccine supplies across the country. 

“The PNP should provide escorts that would ensure the fastest way of, for the vaccines to arrive in their storage and even in the matter of transporting from one facility to the other. Ihatid doon sa mga local governments. The police will provide that kind of mobility,” he said.

Duterte reminded other government agencies not to interfere with the affairs of the National Task Force and stressed that only Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III are the only persons to “call the shots” in the vaccine rollout to ensure the smooth distribution of the vaccines to the people.


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