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Declare yourself as OFW to avail of privilege at Phl airports, says OWWA

08 May 2024


The 2 phones that sparked stories that OFWs can no longer bring 'padala' with them

It was all a case of misunderstanding.

This was how Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Arnell Ignacio explained the incident at Clark International Airport on May 4, when a Filipina who had just flown in from Dubai posted live on Facebook her altercation with customs personnel over two mobile phones found in her baggage.

He made his comment earlier today after visiting the airport and receiving a briefing from a customs official about the procedures that they follow in checking items brought in by arriving passengers.

Ignacio learned that the passenger, Majilyn Alina Valencia, failed to indicate in the customs declaration form that she was an overseas Filipino worker so the phones found in her baggage – one branded Oppo and the other iPhone –were subjected to further scrutiny, in line with guidelines for arriving tourists.


Under Customs guidelines for arriving passengers, all items that are brought it are exempt from duties and taxes if their value is less than P10,000. But for OFWs, the threshold is Php150,000. (The summary of the rules may be found here:

Ignacio (left) confers with Valencia over the Clark incident

Di mo naman pala dineclare na OFW ka, kaya yung batas na ipinatupad para sa iyo ay para sa turista,” said Ignacio. (Oh so you did not declare yourself as an OFW, that’s why the rule that was applied to you was for tourists).

Ignacio called on passengers to calm down when dealing with airport personnel, as he was satisfied from the briefing that they gave him that they were doing their best to ensure a smooth passenger flow in the airport.

He also said he was satisfied that the tiff resulted from a simple misunderstanding after being told that the phones were given back to Valencia with no taxes being levied on them.

In her live video that immediately went viral, Valencia, who described herself as a businesswoman in her Facebook profile, could be heard protesting loudly after she was told to open her suitcase and the two phones were found inside.

Speaking in her native Pampango language, Valencia asked the customs inspector if they intended to confiscate the items she had worked hard for. The customs staff said they were only holding the items as they were not in Valencia’s declaration form.

The video was cut short after Valencia said she was recording the incident live on Facebook and was told that it was not allowed.

A repost of the live video with a comment hitting at customs staff at Clark

Almost immediately, the official Facebook page of Clark International Airport (CRK) was flooded with hate comments, even death threats, that the agency had to turn off its comments and messaging sections.

Most of the angry comments came from overseas Filipino workers accusing the authorities at Clark of preventing them from bringing in “padala” (presents) for their loved ones, and fleecing them of their hard-earned money.

The CRK said the malicious and hate comments were forwarded to relevant government agencies.


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