OFW’s bring home their balikbayan boxes from Balagtas warehouse

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BALAGTAS, Bulacan– More than 100 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW’s) and their kin successfully took home their abandoned ‘balikbayan’ boxes in Bureau of Customs in  a warehouse here on Saturday.

Robert Uy, representative of Association of Bidders of the Bureau of Customs led fellow bidders in distributing the balikbayan boxes to OFW claimants and their families from all over the country as a form of an early “Christmas gifts” to them.

The packages which were not claimed within 15 days were already declared as abandoned. There are corresponding fees and taxes to claim the packages, Uy said. 

The BOC auctioned them last Sept. 30 to different groups of bidders. Uy’s group won the bidding for nearly P350,000 and acquired some 3,500 balikbayan boxes loaded in 16 containers. 

One of the balikbayan who gladly receive from officials of a bidder group their balikbayan boxes. Photos by Anton Luis Catindig

They took part in the bidding to take charge in the free distribution of the packages for the respective owners and recipients.

“We bought them in the BOC bidding to distribute free of any charge to the OFW’ and their beneficiary kin as a form of Christmas treat for them”. 

They have started distributing some 900 boxes in Metro Manila and kept the remaining others inside a rented stall in Hobart Warehouse in Barangay Burol 1st along the MacArthur highway this town.

But the release was prevented by a written order by a BOC official dated Nov. 4 quoting a suspension order from Internal Administration Group and Trade Information Risk Analysis Director Michael Fermin.

Fermin said while Uy’s group won the bidding to claim and retrive from BOC facilities the unclaimed or abandoned balikbayan boxes, Door-to-Door Cargo Association of the Philippines represented by Joel Longares is incharge in distributing the packages through house to house deliveries to recipients in their respective home addresses at no cost at all to the owners.

But Uy said the OFW’s had already rushed to the warehouse to pick their packages and had spent time and for gasoline and that their packages should already be given to them.

The baggages of goods including foods like chocolates, medicines, vitamins and other pasalubong packages were brought and sent home in time for Christmas.

Fermin allowed the release of the packages of the OFW’s and their relatives who went to the warehouse but ordered Uy to stop the further release to unburden the claimants of pick-up travel expenses. 

One of the balikbayan who gladly receive from officials of a bidder group their balikbayan boxes. Photos by Anton Luis Catindig

He reiterates that it is the DDCAP’s work to distribute them through free delivery at no cost at all to the owners.

“Within NCR it should be given within a week, in Luzon within two weeks, in Visayas and Mindanao within 3-4 weeks. We will meet on Monday to discuss this,” he said.

Lizelle Macabibi, 38, from Iloilo, a balikbayan from Dubai on Saturday rushed to Hobart Warehouse after she was notified by Uy’s group that her abandoned packages in BOC can already be picked up. 

But she was surprised when she was told her two jumbo boxes would not be released to her. “Hindi puwedeng hindi namin mauwi ang boxes namin, andito na kami, kami ang may-ari ng mga boxes na yan, wala silang magagawa. Galing pa ako ng Iloilo para lang makuha yan balikbayan jumbo packs ko. Nauna ko pa yan ipauwi kaysa ang pagdating ko nitong week na ito from Dubai,” she told NEWS CORE.

Robert Prinsena, 46, from San Pablo, Laguna who arrived in the warehouse at 2:00 a.m. would also not leave unless the gasoline expensez were refunded to them. 

Laila Pagad, 50 from Eastern Samar arrived in the warehouse on Friday night to pick up the balikbayan box sent to her by her daughter in the Middle East.

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