Increased penalties amounting to half a million pesos and 6 years jail time is said to be implemented with government officials caught pilfering or asking money for the release of balikbayan boxes.
Senator Ralph Recto increased the penalties to protect OFWs and foreign travelers from the possible extortion of money. For the past months, the Bureau of Customs is under fire after alleged pilfering of balikbayan boxes.
The Customs Modernization and Tarriff Act, also features tax-exempt for balikbayan boxes with content amounting to P150,000.
For government employees caught doing this hideous act, forfeiture of government services, disqualification from any public office and exclusion of voting rights is also part of their penalties.
Last year, offenders are fined around P50, 000 and 1 year jail time. Punishable offenses includes,
- Tampering of balikbayan boxes
- Demands of money for the release of balikbayan boxes
- Receiving tips or fees for the service rendered
- Denying to give receipts upon the collection of money.
Officials and employees should now be cautious upon extorting money from OFWs.