Bureau of Customs teams up with tobacco firms to curb smuggling
MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has assured the public that it is working with tobacco / cigarette manufacturing companies to address possible gaps that lead to syndicates smuggling counterfeit products into the country.
In a statement on Friday, the BOC said that its officials, led by Commissioner Bien Rubio, held a meeting with executives of Philip Morris International (PMI) and Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) to discuss strategies to improve the fight against illicit tobacco trade.
“Illegal traders who attempt to gamble with our laws will find our Customs agents are one step ahead of them. That has always been our goal and our mandate—to put these smugglers away and make them accountable, answerable and ultimately, face the consequences of what they do,” Rubio said.
“So, in this meeting, we identified the gaps in our strategies. These groups have been very creative and aggressive in entering our markets so our cooperation with tobacco companies is aimed at answering these with even more comprehensive methods to intercept their modus,” he added.
Aside from Rubio, BOC was also represented by Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) Director Verne Enciso and Intellectual Property Rights Division (IPRD) chief Paul Oliver Pacunayen.
For Philip Morris, the company was represented by Rodney Van Dooren, head of PMI’s Illicit Trade Prevention; Erdie Ambrocio, PMFTC Illicit Trade Prevention Manager for Luzon; and Steve Lamosao, PMFTC Illicit Trade Prevention Executive for Visayas.
Enciso said the meeting focused, as expected, on the proliferation of smuggled tobacco products in the market.
BOC also said that PMI and PMFTC committed to work closely and share intelligence reports to effectively combat tobacco smuggling.
The collaboration aims to create a formidable alliance against those involved in these illegal activities, ensuring the integrity of the tobacco industry and promoting a fair and competitive market.
“It is important for us to recognize that these are not only very real threats, but that there are well-orchestrated plans aimed at circumventing our laws. Our cooperation with companies and organizations put in place proper mechanisms to secure our borders and curb the illicit trade of tobacco,” Enciso said. (With reports from Kirsten Segui, trainee)