Authorities bust illegal cigarette factory in Zamboanga del Sur
PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur——An illegal cigarette factory in Dinas town in Zamboanga del Sur was busted by authorities on Friday (March 6).
Joint operatives from the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Bureau of Customs and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) raided the cigarette factory in Barangay Don Jose that produces 50,000 packs a day.
PNP Provincial Director Col. Rhode Espero disclosed that a verified information from concerned residents led authorities to conduct surveillance and uncover the illegal operation.
NBI Regional Director Atty. Moises Tamayo said they have been tailing this illegal manufacturer of cigarettes for months.
“We have been operating against them for long but they transfer locations every now and then. They were here less than a year ago,” Tamayo disclosed.
According to Tamayo, government was incurring at least P60 million per month in foregone excise tax revenue which is P45 per cigarette pack from the factory had it properly declared its operation.
Dinas Mayor Eleazer Asoy said that per municipal records, the firm’s business permit application only identified the facility as seaweeds warehouse and later changed to rice mill.
Rice products were fronted to cover their illegal business, Asoy pointed out.
He added that the property was originally owned by a local businessman and was sold to a Chinese individual in 2018. At the time of the raid, police said the warehouse is owned by a certain Alex Chua.
Asoy recalled hearing tales from individuals that cheap branded cigarettes can be bought from the warehouse, prompting him to ask law enforcers to look into the matter.
Asoy’s report and the information provided by residents led concerned authorities into the case.
Found inside the warehouse were cigarette-making machines and materials for the product of packed cigarettes like cigarette rolling paper, taping paper, tobacco, and counterfeit BIR stamps.
Personnel from a legitimate cigarette maker certified the fake labels used in the packed cigarettes.
On Saturday, the joint team recovered three cigarette-making machines loaded in a cargo van which was abandoned in Barangay Bagalupa of Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur.
Edited by MUF
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