Where are our balikbayan boxes?
This was the question asked by many frustrated Filipinos who fell victims to two blacklisted cargo forwarders in the United Arab Emirates.
Dozens of containers full of such balikbayan boxes are stuck with the Customs Bureau in Manila due to non-payment of fees by the two cargo forwarders, according to a report on Gulf News.
Blacklisted by the Philippine Shippers Bureau were Dagupan Cargo Packaging Services and Express Link Cargo Services.
One Filipino expatriate said Al Ain-based Express Link Cargo picked up his box last Jan. 27 but never delivered it to its destination. “I was supposed to get it on March 15,” he said.
He added a visit to the Customs office in Manila was useless because his cargo would not be released until payment was made.
Unable to do much more, irritated customers could only air their frustrations on social networking site Facebook.
“It’s painful to think we’re being duped by fellow Filipinos. I’ve been promised a thousand times by Dagupan people… but it has not been delivered,” said Chrissie, a Filipina in Dubai.
“There’s nothing else we can do but wait. Actually, one of the two boxes sent in December already arrived [in July]. But the other box is still somewhere out there,” said another customer.
Gulf News quoted Express Link Cargo official Gilbert Malvar as saying the containers landed Feb. 27 and March 12, but Customs held them over unpaid fees.
“We are also the victims here. The storage fee goes up for each day the cargo stays in the Customs’ yard,” Malvar said.
On the other hand, Yancy Soriano, the new owner of now-renamed Dagupan Cargo LLC, said they were not aware of Dagupan Cargo Packaging Services’ liabilities when they took over the firm.
Soriano claimed only two containers out of the original 12 are left unsettled since he took over Dagupan’s management.
“We are trying to sort out all the pending problems of the old company. We’re working with our customers to prevent the contents of the remaining two containers from being auctioned off by Customs in Manila,” he said. — JE, GMA News