By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2015 Journal GlobaLinks)
CHICAGO (JGL) – Don't mind the "No-Remittance-Day" threat!
Treating Balikbayan (homecoming) Boxes like love letters or personal letters sent by Overseas Filipinos Workers to their loved ones in the Philippines so that they should not be opened at the ports of entry in the Philippines as ordered by President Aquino should really make happy senders of boxes inserting money, checks, traveler’s checks, jewelries, money orders, pornographic materials, gambling cards, pirated products like DVD, CD, tapes, illegal drugs, gun parts and ammunitions and goods in commercial quantities who refuse to pay taxes that may not be detected by X-Ray machines or K-9 Units.
I am suggesting that the Philippine Bureau of Customs officials should appeal to the President to reconsider his order of “walang bukasan” (no opening) of those Balikbayan boxes not because of the "no-remittance-day" threat of an immigrant group but to unsettle those smugglers.
Although temptation by unscrupulous employees of the Philippine Postal Corporation may have waned in opening love letters or personal letters because of the popularity of the remittance services, there are still many letter senders who will insert $100 bills or so that are being unluckily “screened” by pilferers at the Philippine Postal Corporation assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Even Balikbayans who are returning by airplanes who accompany their Balikbayan boxes had been victims of pilferage under their own “very noses” when their Balikbayan boxes belatedly load off the carousel. Some airport personnel would try to open the boxes and help themselves with “gently” “pre-owned” (used) clothes and shoes and other personal stuff that catch their fancy” and hurriedly close those boxes before loading them on to the carousel belt.
If personal letters and Balikbayan boxes at the airports are being pilfered, what are the guarantees that the Balikbayan boxes that are delivered by ocean-going vessels for weeks will not be pilfered at the Bureau of Customs ports in the Philippines?
The Bureau of Customs led by Commissioner Alberto Lina should be vigilant in opening randomly Balikbayan boxes even after those boxes had gone past the “X-Ray machines and K-9 Units” because there might be insertions of money, manager’s checks and illegal drugs, etc. in those containers that may not be detected by the “X-Ray machines” or Canine or K-9 police units.
Even the controversial garbage from Canada that was the subject of intense controversy should have been meticulously inspected by the Philippine Bureau of Customs before stopping its inspection.
GARBAGE JUST A RUSE?
A friend of mine, a Filipino Canadian, who worked with federal authorities in Canada, told me that Customs inspectors usually wear the right technical masks for such conditions. Inspection of those garbage containers must be done completely to establish the truth. “One tail end (random) inspection of one container out of the 50 garbage containers is an insufficient/incomplete evidence to prosecute” the garbage container senders in Canada and its consignees in the Philippines.
The Fil-Canadian said those garbage might just be a ruse as the containers might contain “illegal drugs, guns and ammunitions or dollar bills” that no longer pass thru the “X-Ray machine” or Canine or K-9 Units.
If the Bureau of Customs is really interested in protecting the interest of Balikbayan box senders, Customs personnel should demand from Philippine brokers paper works that show that cargo forwarders from the United States should have license numbers from the Office of Transportation Intermediaries (OTI) for Ocean Freight Forwarder and Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) issued by the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission.
The OTI/NVOCC license is like auto insurance coverage issued to drivers, who will retrieve their auto insurance coverage papers from their glove compartments in case they are flagged down for traffic violations that would cost them if they have nothing to show.
A cargo forwarder normally shell out 10% of the surety coverage to obtain the NVOCC license whose amount of coverage amounts annually ranges from $75,000 to $200,000 or $7,500 to $20,000 premium payment annually.
Under FMC regulations, licensees are required to provide proof of financial responsibility in the amount of $50,000 for an ocean freight forwarder license and $75,000 for an NVOCC license. An additional $10,000 in coverage is required for each unincorporated branch office in the United States that performs OTI services among others.
If the ocean-going vessels, carrying those Balikbayan boxes, could not deliver those boxes to consignees, perhaps either due to fire or sinking of those vessels or other untoward events, the vessels can collect insurance coverage from sureties if they have OTI/NVOCC licenses and use these coverage to restitute boxes senders of their losses.
Balikbayan box senders should ask for OTI/NVOCC license number from freight forwarders before they entrust their shipment to these forwarders. OTI/NVOCC license should be prominently displayed on the offices of these forwarders like any other business permit. If they don’t see any OTI/NVOCC license even after they asked for it, senders should take their boxes to other forwarders, who have these licenses.
BALIKBAYAN BOX RECIPIENTS HOLDING EMPTY BAGS?
On the other hand, if there are damages or thefts of contents of those Balikbayan boxes due to fire or theft while those boxes are in transit from the Customs warehouse to the consignee's warehouse or while stored in warehouses of the the consignees/brokers in the Philippines, it is not clear if the consignee brokers/Philippine forwarders have to pay restitutions to the Balikbayan box recipients.
The Philippine Department of Trade and Industry’s Shippers Bureau Advisory issued on Dec. 6, 2013 only penalizes consignee brokers for damages due to theft or fire but is silent if the recipients will get any restitution.
In 2013, the DTI charged at least 45 foreign consolidators/principals and Philippine Counterparts/agents for operating without DTI accreditations while eight others have been endorsed to the Department of Justice and Office of the City/Provincial Fiscals for criminal investigation. But there was no word yet from DTI if there have been conviction of these foreign consolidators and agents.
At the same time, six Philippine Counterparts/agents and their foreign consolidators/principals have been issued show cause orders but it is not yet clear if they have been successfully prosecuted.
Balikbayan box senders in the U.S. should also ask the name of the consignees/forwarders of their Balikbayan boxes in the Philippines and inquire from the DTI if their consignees/forwarders are duly accredited by the DTI.
Balikbayan box senders are very lucky campers if compared to their counterparts from Mexico, who will pay up to $185-$230 per shipment of each of these 24"x24"x24" boxes of goodies or those from India, who would pay up to $250 for each of these boxes being shipped to their loved ones in Mexico or India while those senders to the Philippines will only shell out from $50 to $85 per box to forwarders. (To contact Joseph G. Lariosa, click here.)
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By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2015 Journal GlobaLinks)
CHICAGO (JGL) – Sen. Grace Poe should not be disheartened if her detractors want the Senate Electoral Tribunal and the Commission on Elections to scrutinize her citizenship and residency after all she welcomed the filing of the cases by defeated senatorial candidate Rizalito David against her because in her own words, “I can answer the questions on my citizenship and residency. It is an opportunity for the truth to come out and for this issue to be resolved once and for all.”
If she can really make a case before the SET and the Comelec that the cases filed against her by Mr. David will not stick, why even accuse Sec. Mar Roxas of stabbing her in the back? Why be defensive?
Vetting the background of a presidential or vice presidential candidate makes a candidate fair game before any election is held where a candidate should be ready to shed most of his or her privacy. Kung ikaw ay pipili ng mapapangasawa, kailangan kaliskisan mo nang maigi ang lumiligaw sa’yo dahil ang pagaasawa ay di biro na tulad ng kanin na isusubo at iluluwa kung mapaso. (If you are going to get married, you should be able to study up close your suitor because getting married is not a joke like chewing rice that you spit out if it were too hot.)
Candidates will be courting again next year the votes of the Filipino people who deserve nothing but the best candidates, who stick to the truth, who have no skeleton in their closets and have visionary programs of government that would make the people's lives a little better.
Senator Poe should even be thankful to United Nationalist Alliance interim president and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco for questioning her 10-year residency in case she decides to run for president or vice president on the May 9, 2016 general elections because Mr. Tiangco only wants to send a message that all candidates running for office must meet the proper requirements.
When Mr. Tiangco waved Sen. Poe’s certificate of candidacy (COC) during a press conference, indicating she declared the “period of residence in the Philippines before May 13, 2013” elections at “6 (six) years” and “six (6) months,” Mr. Tiangco immediately concluded that she would be short of the constitutional requirement of ten-(10)-year residency in the May 9, 2016 presidential elections. Maybe.
But when this columnist added the “6 years and 6 months” to May 9, 2016 presidential elections, it appears that Ms. Poe would technically meet the residency requirement because she would have been a resident of the Philippines for 9 (nine) years, 6 (six) months and 17 days or 9 55/100 or 9.6 years during the presidential elections in 2016, which if converted into a whole number is 10 years, not 9 years.
OMNIBUS & SUPREME COURT ON POE’S SIDE
As the Omnibus Election Code’s Section 72 of Art. IX provides “if for any reason, a candidate is not declared by final judgment before an election to be disqualified and he is voted for and receives the winning number of votes in such election, his violation (or disqualification) of the provisions of the preceding sections shall not prevent his proclamation and assumption to office.”
Even the Philippine Supreme Court had been magnanimous in finding for winning candidates when it comes to numbers, like questions of age limits. In the case of the late Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr., when he was elected Mayor of Concepcion, Tarlac, Ninoy was 22, which was one year shy of the 23 local government age-limit requirement. When he became senator at the age of 34, Sen. Aquino was short of the one-year constitutional minimum requirement of 35 but the Supreme Court allowed Ninoy to keep his Senate seat just the same.
Senator Poe should also be thankful to Mr. David or whoever bankrolled David’s filing fee (P50K/US$1K) because if she could prove that she was “'single and eligible,' then her marriage to the Filipino people” would certainly make the relationship sweeter and more lasting.
Imagine if nobody questions her citizenship and residency before the elections and she wins the presidency or vice presidency and the candidate she defeated would mount to challenge her citizenship and residency afterwards and succeeds in unseating her, isn’t it adding insult to injury?
I believe Ms. Poe is going to escape her cases at the SET and Comelec unscathed.
All she has to do is to take a page out of the playbook used by my kababayan (provincemate in Sorsogon in the Philippines), Juan Gallanosa Frivaldo, petitioner, against the Commission on Elections and the League of Municipalities, Sorsogon Chapter, represented by its President Salvador N. Estuye when Frivaldo won as Sorsogon governor (G.R. No. 87193, June 23, 1989).
Mr. Frivaldo convinced the Philippine Supreme Court in his certiorari that although Frivaldo became a U.S. naturalized citizen in 1983, his naturalization was “not impressed with voluntariness” because it was “merely forced upon himself as a means of survival against the unrelenting persecution by the Martial Law Dictator’s agents abroad.”
In support of his naturalization as an American citizen, Frivaldo cited the Nottebohm Case, [(1955 I.C.J. 4; 49 A.J.I.L. 396)] where a German’s naturalization in Liechtenstein was not recognized because it had been obtained for reasons of convenience only.
Frivaldo said his oath in his certificate of candidacy that he was a natural-born should be sufficient act of repatriation. Additionally, his active participation in the 1987 congressional elections had divested him of American citizenship under the laws of the United States, thus restoring his Philippine citizenship.
Frivaldo added that he returned to the Philippines after the EDSA revolution to help the restoration of democracy. He also argued that the challenge to his title as Sorsogon governor should be dismissed, being in reality a quo warranto petition that should have been filed within ten days from his proclamation in accordance with Section 253 of the Omnibus Election Code. The League, moreover, was not a proper party because it was not a voter and so could not sue under this section.
When the League said that if it was not party to the suit, Estuye, himself argued, that he was also suing not only for the League but also in his personal capacity, the Supreme Court said Estuye could not have instituted “the suit by himself alone.”
SEN. GORDON, A CANDIDATE AND A GENTLEMAN
If there is someone, who should really file a case to dislodge Ms. Poe as a senator if he wants to nail her down for possible perjury for not being truthful in her COC, it is not Mr. David, who placed 29th with 820,984 votes, but former Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon, who at 13th place garnered 10,159,561 votes, and could easily take over if the disqualification against first placer Poe, who polled 16,339,187 votes, for perjury, holds.
But Mr. Gordon, ever a gentleman, might have passed up the opportunity of dislodging Ms. Poe ten days after her proclamation because Mr. Gordon did not have any basis to do so at that point.
But ever since Messrs. Tiangco and David publicly questioned the residency and citizenship of Ms. Poe, Mr. Gordon never responded to this columnist for comment and had largely distanced himself from joining the mix, perhaps recognizing the futility of filing a quo warranto. I think by being non-commital to a very public issue, Mr. "Flash" Gordon realizes also that in some instances silence is also golden.
But Senator Poe would have to disprove that she was still using her U.S. passport even after she effectively renounced her U.S. naturalization even after employing with the Philippine government service as Chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board from 2010 up to 2013.
If she passes the “U.S. passport” test, for me, the only issue left to be resolved by Ms. Poe is to accept the challenge that she is willing to undergo a DNA test to prove that she is not the daughter of the late President Marcos by providing her specimen for the test. Of course, she will not be disqualified if she fails the test.
But if she accepts my challenge that she takes a DNA Marcos test, her mere acceptance alone, as I told her big supporter, Los Angeles, California and Sorsogon province community organizer and activist Bobby M. Reyes of mabuhayradio.com, will make me root for her in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes because it is a testament that she has the guts to face and handle the truth.
Otherwise, she will be hounded by this issue throughout the campaign.
And she would miss the chance to be my “TransPoemational” candidate! Grace, let's go! (jgli.net)
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