BIR, police seize fake cigarettes worth P100M in Iligan
ILIGAN CITY — More than P100 million worth of fake cigarettes were confiscated in this city on Thursday in an operation jointly conducted by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Iligan City Police Office (ICPO).
Armed with a mission order from BIR Region 10, the operatives raided two houses in Isabel Village, Barangay Palao, this city.
The houses were rented by a Chinese businessman whose identity was not disclosed by the police.
Authorities were met by a middle-aged Filipino woman, who introduced herself as the house cook, and a Chinese man named Wang Jian Min, who introduced himself as a cousin of the business owner.
Alberto Daba, chief revenue officer of the Regional Investigation Division of BIR-10, said the owner of the contraband was not around during the raid and his whereabouts was still unknown.
He said the operation was conducted following an intelligence report from ICPO that the house, which served as the warehouse of a Chinese businessman, has fake cigarettes stored in it.
“It is fake because … the (BIR) stamps are fake,” said Daba said in an interview.
About 100 cases of cigarettes carrying the brand “Two Moon” were confiscated from the first house. It had an estimated market value of P25 million, said Daba.
While the inventory was ongoing, the owner of the house arrived and gave permission to authorities to also check the other house he also owned just beside the first house.
“The two houses are rented by only one person, a Chinese businessman. I only knew his business is spare parts. I did not know he is also into selling fake cigarettes,” said the house owner.
At the second house, 387 cases of various brands of cigarettes were found, all of which had an estimated market value of more than P75 million, according to Daba.
The cigarettes were taken to the BIR-10 office in Cagayan de Oro City while Wang was placed in the custody of the Iligan City Police.
While Wang claimed he was not the owner of the cigarettes, Daba said he would still be charged with unlawful pursuit of business, failure to file excise tax returns, unlawful possession or removal of articles subject to excise tax without payment of tax, and attempt to defeat or evade excise tax.
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