Customs chief apologizes to OFWs over balikbayan box mess
Beleaguered Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina apologized to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on Thursday for the confusion brought about by his office’s plan to open all balikbayan boxes entering the country.
“Pasenysa na po kayo du’n, medyo sa pagkaayos lamang kasi hindi naman lihis ito kasi hindi naman talaga sila ang puntirya dito…” Lina said during the hearing of the Senate committee on ways and means joint with the committee on labor.
(We are sorry there may have been a misunderstanding, because this isn’t really wrong, and they weren’t the target of this measure.)
Asked by the committee chair, Senator Sonny Angara, if his statement was an apology to the OFWs, Lina said: “Palagay ko kami ang nakikiraan kung ayun ang kailangan ng aking kaibigang Tots.”
(We are apologizing if that is what our friend Tots wants us to do.)
Tots is Susan Ople, president of the Blas Ople Foundation, one of those that demanded an apology from the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Saying he is with the labor group, Lina said it was just unfortunate that some sectors had misinterpreted the BoC’s plan to open the balikbayan boxes.
“Hindi sila ang tinutukoy ko. Ang tinutukoy ko ‘yung ginagamit ang pangalan ng mga balikbayan at OFWs (I am not pertaining to them. I am pertaining to those using the names of our repatriates and OFWs)…” he said.
“So sorry ho kayo (So are you sorry)?” asked Angara.
“Ako’y nagso-sorry kung meron kaming natapakan d’yan. Hindi naman kami nangtatapak sa mga OFW. I gave my 200 (percent) support for them. Antayin po n’yo ang bago naming procedures for OFWs. Abangan n’yo. Watch us, watch us,” Lina added.
(I apologize if we have hurt anyone. We didn’t mean to hurt the OFWs. I gave my 200 percent support for them. Just wait for the new procedures for OFWs. Just wait for it. Watch us, watch us.) Maila Ager/IDL
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