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DTI sets info campaign abroad on ‘Balikbayan boxes’

The Department of Trade and Industry, through its Philippine Shippers’ Bureau (DTI-PSB), is going to conduct a roadshow in various countries on “Balikbayan Boxes” saying overseas Filipinos must be aware on how to ensure that the goods they are trying to send to their loved ones back home will reach to their destinations safely and on time.

In a statement, DTI-Consumer Welfare and Business Regulation Group (CWBRG) Officer-in-Charge Atty. Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba said the agency is set to conduct a Roadshow on Balikbayan Boxes in various countries where most complaints on the non-delivery, loss, delay, and damage or pilferage, came from.

“We will directly communicate to the Filipinos abroad and prompt them to be alert in using only the services of those authorized to properly transport their balikbayan boxes to the Philippines and correctly deliver them to their loved ones,” Dimagiba said.

The DTI’s Roadshow on Balikbayan Boxes consists of awareness sessions, dialogues and consultations with overseas Filipinos as individuals, associations or organizations; embassy and consular officials; foreign service officers; overseas welfare officers; and legitimate freight forwarders on the problem on hand, fraudulent activities, actual and resolved cases, assistance programs, and, promotional materials and activities.

Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo, who concurred with the holding of a roadshow said, “Through the roadshow, we intend to bring it loud to Filipinos abroad that they need to be vigilant consumers to avoid untoward incidents regarding their Balikbayan boxes. Simultaneously, we’re limiting the space for deceitful sea freight forwarders to do monkey business and instead, let legitimate firms do their jobs and assist more Filipino consumers”.

DTI-PSB brings the roadshow in Hong Kong on 19-20 October 2013 and in Singapore on 25-26 October 2013. By November 2013, the DTI-PSB visits Riyadh and Dubai.

Since 2008, the DTI-PSB has received a total of 592 complaints on the shipment of Balikbayan boxes through sea. For the first two (2) years, reports were in trickles but the numbers largely rose in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Particularly, there were 208 received in 2011 and 150 in 2012 that comprise 60% of the total number of complaints received.                The tally of complaints also reveals the countries where the deceiving acts take place and where the Balikbayan boxes came from.

The DTI emphasizes that Dubai of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has the most number of complaints on Balikbayan box shipments through sea with 156 or 26%. Next to Dubai are Chicago, USA (53 or 9%); Rhiyadh, Saudi Arabia (52 or 9%); Kuwait (44 or 7%); Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (26 or 4%); Singapore (18 or 3%); and, Hong Kong (13 or 2%).

“Although most of the complainants are the consignees or recipients of the Balikbayan boxes here in our country, the DTI needs to educate the Overseas Filipinos who have sent the Balikbayan boxes here. It is also important that we establish partnerships with other Philippine government offices and with organizations of Overseas Filipinos to ensure awareness on the appropriate procedures of sending Balikbayan boxes, on lists of accredited Philippine sea consolidators or freight forwarders and their foreign counterparts and those non-accredited sea freight forwarders and their foreign counterparts/ agents that have complaints and/ or cases with the Department,” Dimagiba said.

Dimagiba further explained that the roadshow is timely with the start of the Christmas season.

“OFWs have a penchant in sending holiday gifts for their loved ones and we intend to lessen, if not eradicate, complaints or cases of undelivered balikbayan boxes in the months ahead if these unsuspecting Overseas Filipinos will send their boxes through fraudulent foreign sea consolidators,” he said.

As of 30 September 2013, there are 600 DTI-accredited sea freight forwarders composed of Non Vessel Operating Common Carriers, International Freight Forwarders, and Domestic Freight Forwarders.