COVINA, California — Filipinos in California can send their balikbayan boxes and expect their friends and family back home to receive them hassle-free within 30 to 35 days.
Joel P. Longares, president of the Philippine American Shippers Association (PASA) and the Door-to-Door Consolidators Association of the Philippines (DDCAP), made this assurance recently. He said the shipping and delivery of balikbayan boxes have returned close to normal with the gradual resolution of problems that had confronted the industry in the past few years.
“With the improvements and adjustments being made by port and customs authorities in both the United States and the Philippines, we can say with confidence that, for now, your balikbayan boxes will be in your beneficiaries’ hands much faster than during the height of the crisis last year,” said Longares, who is also president and CEO of Atlas Shippers International, one of the biggest Filipino cargo forwarders in the US.
Longares said that the shipment and delivery of the boxes are now virtually hassle-free, with less inspection, faster processing and without the truck bans.
“I’m calling on our kababayans to start sending those balikbayan boxes again and make their family and friends back home happy again,” he said.
At the height of the problems confronting the cargo forwarding industry last year, it took a balikbayan box to be delivered to a beneficiary in the Philippines from 45 to 60 days in Metro Manila, and up to 75 days in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Some of these problems were port congestion, random inspections, and truck bans that all contributed to the extended delays in the delivery of the boxes.
“These problems have been addressed by Philippine and US authorities, and we expect the present situation to continue for months and years to come,” Longares said.
“Despite all the challenges that have confronted the balikbayan box industry, Filipino cargo forwarders remain committed to delivering quality and reliable service to their valued customers,” Longares said. “We believe that overseas Filipino workers and other Filipinos living abroad should be supported in reaching out to their family and friends in the Philippines through the balikbayan boxes that they send. After all, overseas Filipinos have helped the Philippine economy through their remittances.”
Longares said he hopes that the Congress bicameral committee would finally pass the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) and signed by President Aquino or the succeeding president.
The CMTA would not only modernize customs processing, but it would also increase the tax-exempt value of balikbayan boxes of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from P10,000 to P150,000 per box.
“The so-called Balikbayan Box Law (BBL) would make sending balikbayan boxes even easier, and overseas Filipinos would be able to send more items with less restrictions,” Longares added.