The Corruption in EMS Philippines

I lost my faith in the International Express Mail Service (EMS) in the Philippines. And lost a certain amount of faith in the country in the process.

I had two packages sent from abroad to the Philippines, worth $17 each. Both were sent on the same day. One was delivered right at my doorstep, and was paid P35.00.

The other package didn’t arrive. Instead, I received a parcel notice from EMS, informing me that I need to pick up the package at the EMS head office near the domestic airport in Pasay City.

It is the dreaded parcel notice — sent to unsuspecting recipients when your parcel has caught the eye of an EMS vulture. I mean, employee.

Sure enough, I was told that I needed to pay “taxes” worth P4,000 ($90). It didn’t matter to them that then pen was worth $17, and looked like it. It didn’t matter that it has been marked as a gift. I needed to pay the “customs tax” — which coincidentally will not reflect on the receipt. Only the P35 handling charge will be indicated.

Looking around, you could see an old man wearing tattered clothes, begging at the counter to “untax” a second hand PSP. Speaking in Filipino, he explained that his sister in the States sent the old PSP for his grandson. He couldn’t afford P6,000 worth of taxes. He barely has enough to go back home.

Disgusted, I left the package at the EMS, and decided to check the probability of packages being held up by EMS in the Philippines. I had 5 more similar packages sent in a span of 8 days — same weight, same mailing address, same value, and all marked as gifts.

The results: Packages 2 and 5 arrived “unharmed.” Packages 1, 3, and 4 did not. They were unlucky enough to be served with parcel notices.

I initially thought we are only victims of an antiquated tax system by Customs. Proof of this is the fact that Filipino tourists are only allowed a maximum of P10,000 worth of imported goods to bring home. Regardless if these are of personal use. Regardless if you had to purchase an entire set of clothing because the airline lost your luggage. (FYI, in the United States, residents are allowed to bring in up to $800 worth of goods, tax free.)

However, even worse than this illogical tax system are the existence of corrupt & evil personnel at the EMS.

We have always heard anecdotes about missing packages, opened parcels, and illegal taxing of items by the EMS. And we thought that in this day and age, it has disappeared entirely. After all, internet has penetrated the country, lessening the amount of mail being sent out. Surely the EMS would want to preserve their business by offering a highly improved service?

But decades & presidents have gone by, and this corruption still exist. And you wonder if there will ever be a solution. And you wonder if anyone would go out in the streets to correct this. It is so much easier to gather a crowd to oust a President than to fix these deeply embedded corruption in government agencies.

181 thoughts on “The Corruption in EMS Philippines”

  1. Go to your nearest post office I think that’s the right thing to do.
    Or to other carrier like DHL, FED EX, LBC, ETC…

    1. Most of the respondents are obviously people paid by EMS to leave comments here to lessen the impact of bad publicity arising from people who have had their packages stolen or unfairly taxed by corrupt EMS staff in the Philippines. It has happened to me and hundreds of other people. EMS needs to get its act together or continue to be the joke of the courier world.

    2. RE: “Go to your nearest post office I think that’s the right thing to do.
      Or to other carrier like DHL, FED EX, LBC, ETC…”



    3. FedEx is also very scary.. My father and I get into a fight whether to pay a tax.. Imagine..
      my friend from Malaysia sent me a package, and it is just a T-shirt and desk calendar and they asked me to pay 2,000+ Tax! Grabeh!

      Naiyak talaga ako sobra… it leave me broke for the next 2 weeks… I take it cause nakakahiya sa friend ko. I think we should let this PROBLEM be known.

  2. If you have questions or queries regarding with your forwarders or carriers go to or visit their offices or branches.

    I think their staffs or employees can explain it to you rather than just complaining in some sites.

    1. We wouldn’t be complaining in the first place if their service is good and trustworthy..

      Am very sacred right now.. cause our package is currently at PHZone7 (i Don’t know where that is) and is advised to be pick-up… T____T

    2. Oh yeah??? their employees can’t because they said it’s the (CORRUPT) Custom’s job. I already ask all information from FEDEX, UPS, AIR21, 2GO and etc. they always have the same answer, “THEY DON’T KNOW, BECAUSE IT’S THE CUSTOM’S JOB” . We’re not just complaining because we want to complain, we’re complaining because it’s too much corruption!!!!

  3. Telling them your queries, expressing your opinions or suggestions and sharing your experiences with their services, whether it is good or not.

    I think it will be highly appreciated.

    So let them know…

  4. Telling them your queries, giving them your opinions and suggestions and sharing your experiences with their services whether it is good or not would be a great help and I think it will be highly appreciated.

    So let them know…

  5. Telling them your queries, giving them your opinions and suggestions and sharing your experiences with their services whether it is good or not would be a great help and I think it will be highly appreciated.

    So let them know…

  6. Telling them your queries, giving them your opinions and suggestions and sharing your experiences with their services whether it is good or not would be a great help and I think it will be highly appreciated.

    So let them know…

  7. sana mauso ulit ang anthrax tapos sobrang potent para pag bubuksan ng mga magnanakaw sa post office patay sila agad. mas maganda yun para mabawasan ang magnanakaw.

  8. We also had our horror experience at EMS. There is this particular official named Fema Rosares who made money out of us. There is no way on Earth I’ll do business with EMS ever again.

  9. hello
    meron ba sa inyo ang nakaka alam ng pangalang ng customs officer na in-charge sa EMS PO sa Pasay???

  10. Hello,

    Its the our laws that made these companies compel us to pay the taxes, not only the personnel but also our law. sobrang sobra ang taxes. they should revise the schedule of taxes.

  11. Just had a terrible experience using EMS. My mail was hijacked from the postman. I was really in shock because my mail contained money. I think this is an inside job. How can the postman be robbed in broad daylight unless he is being watched or monitored. Next time don’t put money or else, take the risk.

  12. I sent a parcel from Singapore to PH 30 July 2010 using EMS (guaranteed 2-4 working days delivery). I used the tracking system & found out that the parcel has been ‘Held by Destination Customs’ since 2 Aug 2010! Its supposed to be door to door! What r they planning to do with it? I’ve read so many horror stories regarding the postal/customs system & its freaking me out. The parcel contains birthday gifts! R they gonna tax on toys & games?! Someone pls reply!

    1. ALso same case i parcel from china was sent 28 July 30 and arrive at customs 05 August 2010.. Until now…still there HANDED OVER TO CUSTOMS…What am i going to do? Do you have telephone numbers to call?

  13. Those working at EMS releasing section are all “VULTURES AND CROCODILES” they will eat you alive. I hope all their children will contract all the worse diseases in the world.

  14. I was also ROBBED (or felt like it) by the EMS officers. They don’t have ANY system or classification on how to compute the actual value of your package, they just GUESS how much each item is worth!!!!!


  15. …pinakacorrupt na department ng gobyerno yang Bureau of Customs. Kahit janitor/ messenger lang nila, maganda kotse.

  16. ako rin biktima din ng mga wankata na mga tao dyan sa ofis of the poste pero naniniwala ako sa karma pag di man yan sila tama an ng lintik hopefully mga anak or mga kamag anak nila ang tamaan sana mas malaki pa ang mawala sa kanila hoppppppppfullyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.salamatpooooooooooo

    1. ako din po biktima ang tagal ko n d2 s japan at lage akong nagppdalan gmit EMS ngayon lan ako nkaencounter na sisingilan nila parents ko s package ko b4 nila mrecieve..Tinanong nmen kun baket nila kami sinisingilan ng 3000 mahigit ang sabi ba nmn “eh baka kasi may lamang pera ung package” haller bag lan un gift ko s sis ko kc ngbday…sb ko s parents ko buksan nila ung package s harap mismo ng mga EMS staff at kun wlng perang laman un ano nmn kaya ggwin nilang reason…

  17. Meron akong hinihintay na package from china it contains DSLR,Lense,Laptop,LCD Patay, how much kaya babayaran ko….
    Sana Lord wag naman mapasakamay ng masasamang buhaya dito sa pilipinas..

  18. I completely agree with your blog. I’ve had that experiences for twice already.
    First time was the new laptop that my mom sent to me and they charged me P6000 for a laptop which is worth usd 800. I went and claimed it coz I received a notice card. The worst is, a month ago, they even tried to charge me P4400 for a package which is filled with normal new clothes and 2 pairs of shoes. Just because of the plain reason of the price written on the package, which is around $180. I told that filthy woman who tried to charge me that I didn’t bring enough money to claim the package. She asked me how much money have I got in my pocket and I answered, only around P2500, just trying to test her response. And she said leave the P2500 and get your package. And the receipt was unclear one. I have decided to write a letter to the main office with her NAME and actions attached. This is absolutely not fair and obviously, they just want extra money from the foreigners. We, the foreigners are feeding the country by paying fees every 6months and paying lots amount of money whenever we leave the country. I have lost faith in them. And I wonder, that woman who is wearing a holy cross bracelet in her hand, HAS NO ANY FAITH in being a proper fair human.

  19. I transacted several times with EMS. My sister from Japan sends using EMS and did not encounter any of what you mentioned. What I do is to go to the EMS office on the day my package arrives then call the attention of our postman so that he will monitor my package. Once he gets hold of it, I go to the back and receive my package. I just give him some money as a courtesy.

    1. Well that’s the problem isn’t it? You have to ‘know’ someone or have a contact so you can escape taxes which is also wrong.

      Everything that is bought outside of the country is taxed, that’s a given. The main problem is that custom’s staff is corrupt, they seem to have their own system of computing how much should be paid. They even charge taxes on books which is NOT taxable. Their attitude “Magkano ba kaya/dala mo?” is a proof that the money just go to their pockets because at the end of the day, no one will know how much they’ve made and how much of it went straight to their pockets…or baka sila-sila pinaghahatian and pera.

  20. Thanks for this info. I was suppose to send a parcel that was worth 150£ coz I’ll be on holiday in Philippines for two weeks and was thinking that it would be best to send it there while I’m there. I guess it’s was a bad idea.

  21. i also a victim of ems pati money kinukuha nila sobrang taas taxes nila san napupunta mga binabayad na mga taxes corrupt talaga yang ems my only suggest is dont send package thru ems kawawalang pamilyang mabibiktima ng mga to grabe!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. I have an embarrasing experince also about theor service.
    My sister sent an document dated Nov.3. Until now as i post this i haven’t receive the documents. As far as i know it takes only a week for SPECIAL PACKAGE to arrive on the recipient. How come our government tolerate this kind of ‘SHIT SERVICE BUREAU’ like EMS done to his clients?
    What a shame.

  23. We also had the same experience. My ninang sent us gift for our baby. We received a parcel notice, so we went to the post office and saw the little box with 1 plush toy, 2 shirts, 1 pants and a pair of shoes. The tax cost P3000. I was so disgusted the tax costs higher than the items. So we went home and told my husband about it and said to just get it since it’s a birthday gift.

  24. yan mga empleyado sa EMS philippines. mga walang kwenta kayo. kinuha namin yung services ninyo tapos ganun lang ang mangyayari sa padala sa kuya ko. kaya wag niyo na kukunin yung services ng EMS mas mabuti pa yung sa ibang services nila kaysa jan sa EMS….

  25. depende ata kung malaki, maliit, mabigat or magaan man yung
    package, corrupt talaga ang bansa natin ang dami daming tax lahat
    napupunta sa bulsa ng mga ibang tao. Random ata ang pagpili kung
    sino gusto nila itax o hindi eh

  26. i bought an HTC HD2 Dual Sim phone worth $255 from china
    and they mark the parcel as gift worth $50 and was delivered
    Dec.6,2010 and arrived here in the Philippines Dec. 9,2010 and when
    i track it again Dec. 10,2010 it says: Your item was not delivred
    successfully(REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES PHZONE7) at 2010-12-10
    05:57:00 how come it was not delivered successfully eh sa davao
    naka address yun. it takes 1-2 days bago makarating sa davao yung
    item. ano po ba ibig sabihin nito? please reply at my e-mail thanks!

    1. Maybe because it’s an obvious lie. HTC HD2 for only $50? P2000 for an iphone-like phone? Who will believe that? BOC has the right to seize the item if the price was declared wrongly. What happens after that I don’t know.

  27. i ordered from china an item through ems and hope to get a notice to pick up so i can tell them i want to inspect the item then if their tax is to much i will destroy the item so they cant use it. after all its mine and if i refuse shipment its my right to destroy it so it doesnt get into the philippines illegally witout the tax being paid. maybe if we all did this it might wake them up. right now they take the items home with them. wow and they want businesses to move here. ya right!!!

  28. hello po guy’s nid q po ng help regarding sa mga package q,umorder po aq online at ems ang gamit q till now dq pa nrerecieve ang mga package q,kahit na nsa customs na,ilang beses ko na silang tinawagan pero deja vu lang ang mga sinasabi nila,8days ng nkatengga sa ofis nila ang package q,at neon lalo ako kinakabahan dahil sa mga bad comments na nababasa q,regarding sa taxes at mnsan nwawalan pa ng item ang package,mga damit at sapatos ang package ko,pinag-ipunan ko ang mga yun pra lang mabili,pero hanggang neon dq pa rn napapakinabangan :-(
    one more thing pa pla EXPRESS DELIVERY ang ginamit q sa ems,sna mabigyan nio po aq ng advise kung ano ang mganda kong gawin

    Posting Date Posting Time Drop-off Point
    7-Jan-2011 18:11 Pick Up Service (Kowloon and New Territories)

    Date # Location Delivery Status
    7-Jan-2011 Hong Kong Item posted.
    7-Jan-2011 Hong Kong Processed for departure.
    8-Jan-2011 Hong Kong The item left Hong Kong for its destination on 8-Jan-2011
    10-Jan-2011 Philippines Arrived.
    11-Jan-2011 Philippines Pending customs inspection.

    Your item was handed over to Customs(REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES MNL CMEC EMS) at 2011-01-11 09:42:00

    Timing Site Status
      2011-01-07 14:04:00 PUTIAN Posting
      2011-01-07 14:46:39 PUTIAN Arrival at Sorting Center
      2011-01-07 15:15:59 PUTIAN Despatch from Sorting Center
      2011-01-08 20:44:14 FUZHOU Despatch from Sorting Center
      2011-01-09 19:16:00 GUANGZHOU Arrival at Sorting Center
      2011-01-09 22:47:00 GUANGZHOU Despatch from Sorting Center
      2011-01-11 08:38:00 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES MNL CMEC EMS Arrival at Sorting Center
      2011-01-11 09:42:00 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES MNL CMEC EMS Handed over to Customs

  29. I worked in China and so many cheap and fake products all over the place but sending them outside the country is so expensive and so many papers to fill so many requirements needed.I guess the reason was to avoid sending smuggled goods. The government tried to impose large amount of taxes for people not to send a lot of things especially electronics.They want to control the amount of goods going inside and outside the country. They want to discourage people to send large amount of things. If we can freely send all kinds of stuff some people will take advantage of that. Unlucky for an honest sender. Better choose a differrent courier. That is what i did. One huge box door to door delivery and the value of my items is worthy of the value i paid for the delivery.All my cargo were delivered no hazzles. Next time try to inquire first if it is practical or not. But still hoping they will change that kind of sytem in our costum and postal offices.

  30. I had to pick up something from EMS and was shocked at the scene I witnessed. The pollution outside the building was terrible, caused by jeepneys, cabs, and nearby industry. There was also the smell of urine where squatters have been urinating in corners of the building. The locals looked very dangerous and looked at you as if, given the chance, they would rob you blind.
    When I got inside the building all the employees were sleeping at their desk and the smell of pollution was even stronger. Some of the employees were holding tissue paper to their mouths and noses because the smell of diesel fuel was so strong. No one was willing to help me locate my package, even though I had the tracking number which stated the package was left there. An employee finally told me that my package wasn’t there; that it was probably at a post office somewhere in Manila, but couldn’t tell me which one because there were many. I said, bullshit out loud and was worried that I might get thrown out of the place.
    I think the guy was lying. I have a strong feeling the package was stolen. That place smelled of corruption and deceit.

  31. I want to send a package to the Philippines.

    For anyone who googles this, here is my answer. DO NOT SEND ANY PACKAGES TO THE PHILIPPINES. They will tax you too much and it will just be headaches. I was trying to send gifts to my family in the Philippines. They wanted to tax my family member P8000 for the item. Because I am hard headed I decided to waste my money and call to the office for a little of my own interrogation. They could not give me a good answer on why the tax was so much nor could they offer me the legal codes, statues, and laws that governed the tax. This is not over Philippine Customs, EMS, and Postal Service. I will post this everywhere. It will be on blogs, facebook, twitter, myspace, youtube, any means that I can post so people do not get robbed when they want to send thier fellow Filipinos living in the homeland gifts. This will never end with you. I will translate this post as many times as it takes into as many languages as I can until someone hears me. For those of you who want to take the chances simply do not do it. You and your familiy members in the PI WILL GET RIPPED OFF!

  32. T____________T
    reading this depressed me so much.
    I’m waiting for a package from Korea.
    I was tracking the EMS.. now it says

    08:38 02-Apr-2011 Unsuccessful delivery PHZONE7

    Reason :

    Result : Addressee advised to pick up the item

    I hope it is at our Post Office. If not, am very far from Manila, am at Mindanao… T___________________T

    Do you know where is PHZone7?

  33. wow, upon reading the blog and the threads… it made me realize one thing, despite the fact that EMS is an international parcel/postal service, it just shows that anything that our government places their hands on, turns into crap.

    I am an entrepreneur, and have ventured in to the electronics trading, most of my wares come from china, and have been considering EMS. thanks to the threads, now i know that ems should be avoided. customs and duty taxes are a norm, any parcel coming from china amounting to more than 100USD is subject to duty and customs taxes, just provide the correct declaration and make sure that you are not dealing conterfeits, and DHL works real fine.:) wow, come to think of it; EMS charges higher fees than DHL… my chinese partner trusts EMS, maybe only because thats how reliable EMS is in other countries….

    oh well, corruption in the Philippines is an ever present occurrence. and reality sure has its way of slapping our faces and peeling our eyelids way open. like waking up from a nightmare, realizing that a dream of our country being free from that horror is far beyond reach, like a carrot being dangled from a stick, by a sadistic jock on a donkey.

  34. watta corrupt country !!no wonder!!
    nkakakaba naman . ung packages ko din gling japan hnd pa dmadating grabe 6 days na 3 days na nsa customs ung packages until now wala pdin.. hay sana makonsensya mga tao don .. hnd naman nla pnag hrapn un ee.. kapal ng mga mukha grabe…

  35. So, okey we know what they did and will do. so what are we gonna do about it? are we just gonna type and complain here? is there anybody that knows to put this people(if they are) on media spot??? PLEASE TELL US!!!

  36. I was just about to order from china just worth US$115.00 and shipping is free using EMS. I googled EMS phils. and i saw this thread. Now I’m having second thoughts if I will push thru with it. It’s supposed to be a test order and if the transaction is okay, i’m planning to do business using the EMS. Now everthing is down the drain after reading all your complaints. nevertheless, many thanks for sharing your horrible experiences…

  37. well i sent package to phils also and reveiver was taxed with no receipt so i intend going to the top to find out who pocketed the money as phile relys heavy on australian aid so i think we help enough without being ripped off.I know a congressman there and also have links to the pressy so watch out post office in pasay iam on to you

  38. Thank goodness I saw this! or else I’ll suffer! now I’m changing my EMS shipping method to SAL. Is it okay?

  39. I’m already thinking that my last tracked airmail package marked as gift is in the hands of the Vultures… Maybe post office Employee or the Alligators – Customs. It was supposed to come within the 20 to 30 days waiting period but it is already at 35 days no sign of the package. What to do if the package is missing, It came from hongkong and tracked via hongkong post and said the package has arrived already on the philippines. So I wonder what’s taking it so long for it to arrive at my doorstep??? Make a GUess…

  40. @Jayson David
    ok so your parcel has not yet arrived yet and its confirmed in the philippines get your parcel’s tracking number and head straight over to their office fill up this form in Dollors denomination to get a decent view on how much your suppose to bring and good luck and to people think whether or not they are corrupt beats me cause I have experienced this once and that calculator helped me a lot of times so its more or less they are legal we only think that the system is illegal

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