NBI, BIR seize cigarettes with fake stamps in Cagayan de Oro City
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Authorities confiscated truckloads of cigarettes bearing fake Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) stamps in a warehouse in Barangay Kauswagan here on Thursday.
The raid was conducted by a joint team of BIR and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) operatives based on an informant’s tip.
The cigarettes were found in a warehouse fronting the national highway in Kauswagan.
Alberto Daba, regional investigation division chief for BIR Revenue Region 16, said that based on their findings using the agency’s detection device called the “taggant reader,” the boxes of cigarettes bore illegal stamps. And some of the cigarette packs don’t even have stamps.
Daba said the country is losing millions of pesos due to the proliferation of illegal items such as cigarettes as their manufacturers do not pay taxes to the government.
Nolan Gadia, NBI-10 special investigator, estimates the seized goods to amount to P60 million.
Gadia said the cigarettes have the markings of brands belonging to cigarette makers Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) and Japan Tobacco Industry (JTI).
Among the cigarettes confiscated carry the brands More, Marvels, Mighty, and Fort.
A PMFTC representative, who requested not to be named, has confirmed that some of the cigarettes have the markings of their company.
“We found out that these cigarettes are counterfeit, and not from our company,” the representative said.
Gadia said the cigarettes were contained in appliance boxes and sacks.
“These cigarettes are sold cheap as the makers do not pay taxes,” Gadia said, adding that the persons behind the manufacturing of these cigarettes were believed to be Chinese nationals.
The suspects, once identified, will face charges for violating revenue regulation 7-2014.
Meanwhile, the Department of Finance (DOF) has warned local government officials who do not act on illegal cigarette manufacturing and other related activities in their localities.
In a DOF statement posted on the agency’s website, Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III has ordered the BIR to coordinate with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in filing charges against local government executives found responsible for “neglecting to check the presence of, if not tolerating, illicit tobacco trade activities in their respective communities.”
“We should charge them for not doing their job,” Dominguez was quoted as saying. /ee
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