MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Monday it was recommending criminal charges against three cargo forwarding companies over complaints of undelivered “balikbayan” (returning countryman) boxes.
The DTI has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the complaints of 38 individuals about undelivered balikbayan boxes against Al Rodah Marine Services, Rodah Cargo Services and D’Winner Logistics Philippines Inc.
“The DTI is seeking the DOJ’s assistance to conduct a proper investigation of these foreign and local freight forwarders for swindling or estafa,” said DTI-Philippine Shippers Bureau (PSB) director in charge Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba.
From May to October last year, the DTI-PSB said, it received 38 complaints from shippers in Dubai and recipients in Manila, Bataan, Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Davao del Sur, La Union, Laguna, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Rizal and Sorsogon.
“The department has meted out administrative sanctions on them but we aim to stop them from deceiving more consumers so we’re recommending to the DOJ that they be criminally charged for their wrongdoing,” said Dimagiba.
The DTI-PSB said each complaint was heard and carefully studied.
“These companies, by abuse of confidence, misappropriated the funds supposedly for customs release and delivery, to the prejudice of the senders and recipients of the balikbayan boxes which resulted in failure of delivery of the boxes to the rightful consignees,” Dimagiba said.
He said the balikbayan boxes were shipped by Al Rodah Marine Services in Dubai to D’Winner Logistics Philippines Inc. and Rodah Cargo Services in the Philippines for delivery to the recipients.
The recipients, however, never received the boxes.
The DTI-PSB estimated the total losses to the complainants at $11,200 or P459,200 based on the insurance payment of $200 per box.
“The DTI-PSB may hold the foreign principal/consolidator and its Philippine agent/freight forwarder jointly and severally liable for the delivery of cargo to the consignees. Since D’Winner failed to fulfill its obligation to deliver the cargo to the rightful owners, DTI-PSB has also revoked its accreditation, notwithstanding that a motion for reconsideration is pending with DTI-PSB’s consumer arbitration officer,” Dimagiba said.
A cease and desist order has been served on Rodah Cargo Services for operating without an accreditation certificate while Al Rodah Marine Cargo Services has been placed on the DTI-PSB’s advisory on foreign freight forwarders that are under investigation, Dimagiba said.
Complaints of pilferage or lost items and nondelivery of balikbayan boxes may be filed at the Philippine Shippers Bureau, second floor, Trade and Industry Building, 361 Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City, or through fax (02)7513305 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parties needing further assistance may call DTI direct (02)7513330.