Category Archives: Government


imageMANILA  Philippines (The Adobo Chronicles® ) –  In an interview with ABS-CBN News last week, Philippine Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said of Metro Manila’s traffic mess,  “It may be ruining the day for thousands daily, but at least it’s ‘not fatal.’ ”

Abaya’s remarks quickly drew harsh criticism from politicians, the media and the commuting public.

At Malacañang yesterday, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda appealed for patience and assured the public the government is seriously addressing the matter.

“The traffic situation is an issue that we continue to address. There have been a number of ongoing infrastructure projects and all of us are affected by it and we have asked the public for their understanding and patience,” Lacierda said.

Today, the Aquino administration unveiled a new, 5-point plan to solve Metro Manila’s traffic and transportation mess once and for all.

The plan:

  1. MRT, Metro Manila’s light railway system, will not run on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This, according to Abaya, will minimize the long lines at MRT stations that people see on a daily basis. “Wala nang pila tuwing Martes at Huwebes,” he said (There will be no more lines on Tuesdays and Thursdays.)
  2. Only buses will be allowed on Metro Manila streets on Mondays and Wednesdays. Private cars, jeepneys, tricycles and delivery trucks will be banned. “Everyone will be taking the bus, and there will be no traffic jams,” Abaya explained.
  3. Only jeepneys will be allowed on Tuesdays and Thursdays, greatly easing traffic gridlock caused by buses, trucks and private cars.
  4. Only delivery trucks will be allowed on Saturdays to ensure timely delivery of goods and services to businesses and private citizens.
  5. Sunday will be private car day. People who don’t own cars are encouraged to carpool with their neighbors to get to church or the shopping malls.

The only exception to the new rules are the cars of cabinet members and members of Congress, provided they do not use “wang wang” (sirens) which had been previously outlawed by President Aquino.


imageMANILA, Philippines (The Adobo Chronicles® ) –  It seems like the Philippine government has waged an all-out war against its own citizens — especially overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and their families.

First, the Bureau of Customs announced new rules on balikbayan boxes, including opening them for inspection when they arrive at the Philippine port of entry. (Balikbayan boxes are those corrugated boxes used by OFWs to ship goods and gifts to their loved  ones in the Philippines. Until recently balikbayan shipments have been tax-free. )

Today, Commissioner Kim Henares of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) announced that dollar remittances from OFWs will be subject to a 35 percent ‘gift tax.’

The Philippines ranks as the fourth biggest recipient of remittances worldwide with an estimated $24-billion inflow annually,  according to a World Bank (WB) study. Remittances accounted for 12 percent of the Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) the report said.

The Philippines trailed India , China and Mexico in terms of remittances received.

Henares said that the BIR is always looking for ways to earn tax revenue in order to sustain the Aquino administration’s anti-corruption policy of ‘Daang Matuwid’ (straight path).

“Strictly speaking, dollar remittances would be considered income for Filipino families and individuals on the receiving end of the money and should therefore be subjext to tax,” Henares said.

Updating: Henares Responds


Contents of a typical balikbayan box
Contents of a typical balikbayan box

SAN FRANCISCO, California  (The Adobo Chronicles® ) – The Pilipino American Shippers’ Association (PASA) announced today that its members are suspending the shipping of all balikbayan boxes to the Philippines effective immediately. That could mean less corned beef, SPAM, chocolates and designer shoes or clothing for the families of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). PASA includes top shippers like Forex, Atlas and LBC.

The move is in protest of the Philippine Bureau of Customs’ recent announcement that it will be inspecting balikbayan boxes arriving in the country from OFWs.

Until recently, OFWs could send balikbayan boxes to their loved ones in the Philippines, free of inspection or taxes.

New customs regulations require that the contents of a balikbayan box must not exceed US$500.00 in value. Canned goods, grocery items and other household effects must not exceed a dozen a kind, while apparel, whether used or new, must not exceed 3 yards per cut. Only one consignment per sender during a one-month period is allowed,” Customs Commissioner Bert Lina reminded Filipinos abroad.

Lina gave the reminder to warn smugglers who exploit the use of balikbayan boxes to circumvent the law. He also said that the BOC is allowed by law to check the boxes.

“Home appliances are not allowed unless these are consigned to returning Filipino residents and overseas contract workers….We will seize these prohibited shipments and revoke registrations of forwarders or consolidators if we find any violations,” Lina said.

OFWs used social media to express their anger over the announcement by BOC.

In the meantime, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is reportedly preparing to issue new regulations that would impose a 30% tax on dollar remittances from OFWs.

“The BIR needs to find new ways to raise revenue and taxing dollar remittances from Filipinos living abroad would be a great way to meet the agency’s revenue goals,” BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said.