DOJ issues lookout bulletin orders vs Mighty Corp owners

Rappler.com
DOJ issues lookout bulletin orders vs Mighty Corp owners
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II says the lookout bulletin orders are in connection with the smuggling allegations against the cigarette company

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice issued immigration lookout  bulletin orders (ILBOs) against the owners of cigarette company Mighty Corporation over smuggling allegations.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II issued the ILBOs against brothers Alexander and Caesar Wongchuking on Tuesday, March 7, but these were released to the media only on Thursday, March 9.

Aguirre said in his memos to Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente and Prosecutor General Victor Sepulvida that the ILBOs are “with reference to the ongoing investigation by authorities on the ‘cigarette smuggling’ which involved Mr Alexander Dy Wongchuking as suspect.”

Aguirre said the ILBOs were issued as “the aforesaid individual is the subject of pending investigations and in order not to defeat the purpose” of the investigations.

Aguirre ordered the Bureau of Immigration to disseminate the names of the ILBO subjects among its personnel, and to instruct its immigration officers to be an alert for these individuals should they pass through immigration counters at international airports or seaports.

On the same day Aguirre issued the ILBOs against the Wongchukings, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the arrest of Mighty owner Alexander Wongchuking for alleged economic sabotage for the use of fake cigarette tax stamps. Duterte had also alleged that the cigarette company tried to “gift” him with a boxful of cash when he was Davao City mayor.

That same day, March 7, Wongchuking met with Aguirre and National Bureau of Investigation Director Dante Gierran over the allegations, and vowed to cooperate with authorities. The company has denied smuggling and tax evasion allegations.

Aguirre said on Thursday that despite the President’s order, Wongchuking cannot be arrested as there are no charges filed against him. The Department of Finance had said that it is preparing an air-tight case against the company.

The Bureau of Customs has been conducting raids on Mighty warehouses across the country, which yielded cigarette products bearing fake tax stamps. The BOC had earlier said that it was eyeing a P1-billion tax evasion case against the company.

Mighty Corporation, the oldest cigarette maker in the country, was founded in 1945 by Chinese immigrant Wong Chu King. It is owned and operated by sons Alexander and Caesar. – with a report from Lian Buan / Rappler.com

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