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Shippers file for bankruptcy and leave isle parcels in limbo

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Question: I read your May 6 column about PB Direct Express and Philbox Express. I also mailed several boxes to the Philippines by using PB Direct. Checks were cashed, but I found out none of the boxes had been delivered. Most are sitting in a warehouse in Tarlac in the Philippines. My wife spoke to a woman at the warehouse, who told her that they would not be delivered until authorization was received from Millennium Express. Can you let people know what’s happening?

Answer: The owners of PB Direct Express (Maria Estrada) and Philbox Express (Leandro Estrada) have closed their businesses and will be filing for bankruptcy, attorney Donald Spafford told us.

Spafford said he is handling only the bankruptcy filing and had no information about the shipped boxes.

He said he doesn’t have all the details, but his understanding is that most, if not all, the boxes paid to be shipped are in the Philippines.

“According to the Estradas, they had agents (in the Philippines) that were supposed to deliver the boxes, and the agents have absconded with the money and the trucks in the Philippines,” Spafford said. “So they don’t have the money, because of the thefts, to pay what needs to be paid to get the boxes out of storage or (Philippines) Customs or wherever they may be.”

Millennium Express & Travel Inc., on Waipahu Depot Road, is an entirely separate company and a “Federal Maritime Commission freight forwarder,” a company official said.

He said Philbox/PB Direct had asked Millennium Express to “co-load” shipments to the Philippines and that basically it’s in “the same boat” as the people who had shipped boxes via the two companies.

However, “We will try to help as much as we can,” he said, noting his company is being bombarded by phone calls. He estimates 1,000 to 1,500 people might be affected.

“We are still conducting our inventory” to determine ownership of the boxes sitting in the Philippines, he said. “It will probably take us about a month to complete our inventory.”

He asked anyone calling about a shipment to provide a name, invoice/box number and a telephone number, for now, and not to “expect any action until the inventory is completed.” Call Millennium Express at 699-4329.

Question: Mahalo for giving prominence to the complaint against PB Direct in your May 6 “Kokua Line.” We’ve filed complaints with the BBB and Office of Consumer Protection, and sought the assistance of Philippine authorities. Can you please tell all victims of PB Direct Corp. to call me for mutual assistance regarding our situation?

Answer: Cesar Ramirez said he hopes “to create an awareness in the Filipino community that this problem should not be tolerated.” He can be reached at 677-1436 or 561-2502.

Question: When are they planning to open the new road connecting Kuahaka Street to Kuala Street in Pearl City? It would really help ease the traffic on Noelani Street.

Answer: The new Kaakepa Street is expected to open by June, said Collins Lam, director of the city Department of Design and Construction.

The department is completing a construction checklist for this “very important connector road,” Lam said.

The $3.175 million project entailed grading work; construction of the roadway, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and retaining walls; installation of a storm drainage system, traffic signals system and street lighting system; plus street trees and an irrigation system.

The project also included repairing a sinkhole at Kuala Street, Lam said. The project began in November 2009.

Write to “Kokua Line” at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email
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