When the Bureau of Customs announced their plans to randomly inspect "balikbayan" boxes, OFWs around the globe responded via the internet.
OFWs made sure that the government will know how disappointed they are with this plans of the Bureau. They posted videos, photos and statements detailing how cruel and insensitive the plan is. Some even made a Change.Org petition addressed to Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, in which the Senator already responded.
This issue about balikbayan boxes already gone viral and as expected, politicians (especially those who are running for the higher ranks) didn't hesitate to give their own view about his matter. Below are some of their statements.
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte
“Those Balikbayan boxes are sacred. They are an expression of love and affection. Nobody should be allowed to make a mockery of this sentimental bond between an OFW and his family back home”
“Alam ba ng mga taga Customs na pati ang pag-arrange ng mga pasalubong ay may emotional meaning?”
“Let’s put an end to the exploitation of these people who have sacrificed a lot working away from their families just to secure a better future for their children”
Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" R. Marcos Jr.
“For every OFW, a balikbayan box is the equivalent of his or her love letter to a spouse and the rest of the family”
“Every item inside that box was bought with a specific person and purpose in mind, bought for with the hard-earned money of our modern-day heroes. So if a single item there gets lost, can you imagine how that feels to an OFW who invested so much emotion and money just to get those goods home?”
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago
"Balikbayan boxes are often channels of private and personal communication between migrant workers and their families in the Philippines. Is nothing sacred anymore for the Bureau of Customs?"
“It is one thing to inspect balikbayan boxes, another to desecrate them. The Bureau of Customs seems aware that balikbayan boxes, when opened by their personnel, are sometimes pillaged. What have officials done to rid their ranks of thieves?”
“Whether they accept it or not, the sad reality is that Customs personnel don’t particularly enjoy the public’s trust. You cannot blame OFWs for doubting the renewed vigor of Customs inspectors when it comes to balikbayan boxes”
Election in the Philippines is near. This kind of issue and how the politicians responds and reacts might become a deciding factor for OFWs who to vote for in 2016.