OFWs disappointed over Marcos admin’s lack of action on missing balikbayan boxes

OFWs disappointed over Marcos admin’s lack of action on missing balikbayan boxes

COMPLAINTS continue to pour out from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) regarding the missing balikbayan boxes sent to the Philippines.

A group of OFWs cannot help but feel disappointed over the Marcos administration’s inaction on this issue despite their persistent pleas to address this problem.

These OFWs have been going back and forth tirelessly to the Senate, hoping that their plea for an investigation into the thousands of victims of missing balikbayan boxes will be heard.

“I hope so, but it’s just so disheartening to me,” according to Jeffrey Balsa, Chairman, OFW Assistance Advocates.

Rutchi and Rosa Marie are both OFWs from the Middle East.

They sent their balikbayan boxes to the Philippines last year— at a time when they were still working abroad.

Balikbayan boxes, or repatriate boxes, contain items sent by OFWs to their families and loved ones in the Philippines.

But what’s painful is that even though they have returned to the Philippines this year, the balikbayan boxes, which their families expected as the fruit of their hard work, seemed to have vanished into thin air in an instant.

“It’s exhausting, and we’ve been to the Senate multiple times, but there’s been no action.”

“We’ve been passed around to different offices, and we even reached Baguio,” stated Rosa Marie Hernandez, OFW.

“I’m calling [on the government], and I hope that we, the victims, receive back what we worked hard for and saved to send to our families. Many of my housemates are also victims, with four boxes missing,” added Hernandez.

Jeffrey Balsa, chairman of OFW Assistance, is leading the search for missing OFW balikbayan boxes. He has tirelessly pursued their requests at the Senate for an investigation.

“I keep going back to the Senate. I will never get tired of helping our OFWs, but there’s still no investigation until now. How long will we have to wait? Do we need to go viral on the internet? Do we need someone to sacrifice their life for us OFWs?” said Jeffrey Balsa, Chairman, OFW Assistance Advocates.

According to Balsa, cargo shipping companies abroad and in the Philippines are blaming each other for why OFW balikbayan boxes don’t reach their intended destinations.

Shipping companies also allow the Bureau of Customs to decide whether to abandon or auction off the balikbayan boxes.

“The cargo companies abroad collect the balikbayan boxes, collect payment, and send them in containers,” Balsa added.

Upon arrival in Philippine containers, local forwarders claim that the cargo companies didn’t pay them, so these local forwarders can’t settle the necessary payments to the Bureau of Customs, leaving the boxes stranded for up to a year.

To recall, last March, Senator Lito Lapid filed a resolution for the Senate to investigate the complaints of thousands of OFWs about missing balikbayan boxes.

In his Senate Resolution No. 950, Lapid also seeks answers about incidents involving missing contents from balikbayan boxes.

However, until now, OFWs have not felt the impact of this resolution.

“I am disappointed with this administration. Why is there such a lack of action for us OFWs? Aren’t we “modern-day heroes”? Haven’t we contributed greatly to the Philippines?”  Balsa added.

On June 13, the office of Senator Jinggoy Estrada released a letter stating that Senator Lapid’s issued resolution had been referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, where Senator Win Gatchalian chairs.

OFWs remain hopeful and continue to appeal for a resolution to their long-standing issue.

“We appeal to Pres. Marcos to finally address our concerns. As long-time OFWs, it’s exhausting to work abroad, far from our families,” said Rutchie Mabalatan, OFW.

“To Pres. Bongbong Marcos, please help all of us OFWs with our grievances,” Hernandez added.

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