November 07, 2008

You know Christmas is coming when...

...employees of the Bureau of Customs in our international airports are in their usual "pahingi" or "Merry Christmas!" mode.

3 BOC personnel sacked for harassing Fil-Am entertainer

MANILA, Philippines - Three Customs examiners are in hot water for allegedly asking for “free samples” of promotional shirts from a visiting Filipino-American entertainer at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The three – Omar Indol, Samuel Saed and Cecilia Venzon – were relieved from their posts and transferred to the Human Resource Management Division (HRMD) pending investigation, Customs commissioner Napoleon Morales said Thursday.

“Apparently, the examiners asked for samples of the T-shirts which is against the bureau’s policies because this is not a commercial importation where you check the merchandise for right valuation and classifications,” Morales said. (Click GMA News TV for the rest.)

ON a personal note, there was one Christmas my Aunt from the U.S. came home and she told me she spent almost $50 just because of the "pahingi" of those people assigned at the NAIA –– from the baggage handlers, Immigration agents to the Customs examiners. I told her she shouldn't have forked over any cash but she said she just wanted to quickly get out of the airport and away from the bedlam. These balikbayans and other foreign visitors sure get a warm welcome at the NAIA don't they? ngek.

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In another instance, two lady Thai chefs who were recently asked to come in as part of a hotel's Thai food festival also received the same fate. They brought in special spices, not a lot, but were needed for their cooking; the Customs examiners also charged them a humongous amount of duties. Duties daw! Of course, the chefs were not given a receipt for said duties, so the hotel, owned by a Filipino-Chinese taipan, can't reimburse them. And btw, said taipan absolutely forbids his employees to give bribes to, or fix government employees.

Hay kaluoy naman these two nice Thai ladies. No one from the hotel briefed them about what to expect at the NAIA. And now they are probably swearing off from ever returning to the Philippines.

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But passengers arriving at the NAIA aren't the only ones getting a warm welcome from the Customs examiners these days. Even those landing at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Pampanga are getting harrassed as well.

Just recently, my friend Miggy's husband bought her an LV Trevi purse during a trip to Malaysia, and of course, so as not to crush the bag, he just hand-carried it on his flight home. Upon arrival at the DMIA, the Customs examiners asked him to pay duties on the bag. Teka, teka...are you guys kidding? The bag is for personal use!

Miggy's husband would've understood and gladly paid the importation duties if he was bringing an entire luggage full of stuff to sell but he's no viajero. He's just a loving husband bringing home a nice bag as a present for his lovely wife! Incensed at the unreasonableness of the Customs examiners, Miggy finally called a top DMIA honcho, after which her husband and the bag were let through. E talaga namang mali sila noh!

According to Miggy, her hubby was on the same flight as OFWs and she supposes, the Customs examiners just thought he was one of them and targeted him for their no-good tricks. Ang kapal! But then when you think about corruption, how apt the name of the airport dontcha think? Monkey see, monkey do.

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