The balikbayan box sent by Kuwait-based Filipina RM Salim.


Kuwait: Filipina cries foul after balikbayan box ‘pilfered’

A post by a Filipina in Kuwait has gone viral on Facebook with photos of her balikbayan box or care box seemingly pilfered before it was delivered to her family in the Philippines.

RM Salim said that alarm bells started ringing after it took months for Kuwait-based Phil Asia International Cargo to deliver the box.

Salim said her balikbayan box was picked up from her Kuwait residence on December 7, but it was only delivered to her family in Maguindanao, Philippines last March 25.

“If I did not scold one of their staff, they would not deliver it. Maybe they were embarrassed to deliver it because a lot of items were already missing,” Salim said in Filipino. There was no response from the cargo company on the issue as of this publication.

“Would you believe that the items I placed in the middle of the box have been rearranged and placed at the bottom,” she added.

The Filipina posted photos on social media of her balikbayan box with a gaping hole on top, as though someone ripped it open. A few boxes of Lipton tea and some undistinguished items could be seen in the partly emptied box. The post has also been shared in a UAE-based group for Filipinos.

Salim, who is a mother of two, said several items that she packed for her family were missing, including some canisters of potato chips.

Salim said she regretted sending her balikbayan box for the first time through the Kuwait-based cargo company, adding that she usually ships them through two other popular cargo companies.

This is not the first time that Filipinos in the Middle East, including the UAE, have complained of items in their balikbayan boxes that were reportedly stolen or damaged upon “inspection”.

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) customarily send gifts in the form on care boxes or balikbayan boxes for their loved ones. The boxes typically contain canned goods, chocolates, clothing, perfume and toiletries, toys and gadgets. Balikbayan boxes are tax-exempt if their contents are valued at P150,000 (Dh10,714) or less, according to the Bureau of Customs.

Punishment for balikbayan box theft

Under Philippine law, the minimum sentence for stealing from balikbayan boxes ranges from one year in jail to six years in prison. The maximum jail sentence is 12 years under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA). The fine also ranges from P500,000 to P1 million.

Under the CMTA, punishable acts involving balikbayan boxes includes tampering of balikbayan boxes, demanding other or greater sums of levies on pasalubong cargo, receiving any fee, compensation, or reward except as by law prescribed, for the performance of any duty; and neglecting to give receipts, as required by law, for any sum collected in the performance of duty. ICA/Expat Media

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