The Bureau of Customs has been in hot water recently because of corruption allegations, especially regarding taxes on packages as well as the lack of transparency on balikbayan boxes.
And now, it seems like these allegations won’t stop!
A netizen, Elizabeth Ramos, posted on social media about her recent experience with the Bureau of Customs, after ordering a discounted set of Harry Potter books that was shipped from abroad. For those who are unaware, books are EXEMPTED from tax when imported, in the spirit of promoting literacy and education. For individuals, six (6) pieces per title of books, newspapers, and other scientific, cultural and educational materials are tax and duty-free, while institutions are allowed twelve (12) pieces per title. This is under Dept. Order No. 57-2011 and pursuant to the UNESCO Florence Agreement, which the Philippines is a signatory of.
Of course, as some netizens can attest to based on personal experiences, one does not simply claim their packages at the Bureau of Customs scot-free! The Bureau of Customs tried to find a loophole in the agreement, saying that the Harry Potter series contains seven (7) books, which would be more than the prescribed six (6) tax-free books, so this was subject for tax! Elizabeth fought for her rights, naturally, as she knew the policy. Below is the full post on her experience:
Here’s my experience to the most corrupt government office of the Philippines.
I ordered Harry Potter Boxed Set (7books) from Bookdepository. I got the #EMS notice last December 2014. I got really excited when I received the notice card but also scared because I heard/read horror stories regarding the tax on books impose by the Pasay Post Office. Books are exempted to tax if its not more than 6 books PER title.
Me and BF went to EMS Pasay Office prepared to face them. I brought the copy of the Dept Order regarding the tax exemption of books. When I got there, we have to wait for my number to be called. We waited for 1 and a half hour. When I was called, I went to the inspection room. They open my package and compute for the tax. They asked me to wait again to be called to another room. There was an old man there selling snacks (near the CRs) he told me that “Kapag lumagpas ng 2k yung tax sayo lapit ka sakin.” When I was called to another room, they showed me their computation. That’s when I explained to them that books are exempted to tax according to the copy of the Dept Order 57-2011 and the Florence Agreement (with highlights and everything) that I brought. That its for personal use etc. However, they pointed out that it was more than 6 books. They even told me that the Harry Potter books are all the same! One lady even told us “Marunong pa kayo samin”. Grabe lang inis ko nun.
We went home with nothing.
The next few weeks, I researched about the tax on books and who should I tell my concern. Salamat FB and IG friends! ????
I tweeted @mlq3 first then he mentioned @pcdspo. PCDSPO asked me to email them. I asked both of the accounts if my Harry Potter Boxed Set (7books) should be taxed. And they answered me that books are not taxable and that my Harry Potter books are tax exempted.
Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning
They forwarded my email to these email adds
OCOM Public Assistance/Complaints Desk Team
Then I think the BoC forwarded my email to Pasay Post Office. I went back to the post office and went straight to their room. I talked to someone told my name. Yea! He knew me (because of the email)! I tried again to tell him that books are tax exempted but he told me that theres no need for my explanation. He asked someone to get my books and asked me to pay for 100php for the storage fee. He even asked me if “Sino ba kapit mo?” And I was like “Huh?!”. Ang sarap sabihan na Lolo ko kasi si Fidel V. Ramos at Tito ko si Manuel Quezon ???? (Joke lang..di kami related)
From then on, sinumpa ko na yang Customs at Post Office na yan. Pero parang gusto kong ulitin para mairecord mga palusot nila. ???? Mag antay lang kayo, pag nagsale ulit ang Harry Potter boxed set baka sipagin ako ????
P.S. The part with the erasure was the discounted “tax” for 700php the guy erased it when I said I don’t want to pay for it.
Good for you Elizabeth, for standing up for your rights!
What do you think of this? Have you had a similar experience at the Bureau of Customs?