NBI, BIR agents seize P60M worth fake cigarettes in CDO


CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Teams from the National Bureau of Investigation- Northern Mindanao and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) raided a warehouse in Barangay Kauswagan here on Thursday, March 7, and confiscated some P60 million worth of fake cigarettes.

Law enforcers said they have been monitoring the warehouse along the National Highway in Barangay Kauswagan.

This is not the first time that counterfeit cigarettes were found in this city. A raid on May 22, 2018 also yielded P30 million pesos worth of fake cigarettes as well as cigarette-making machines in a warehouse in Barangay Cugman here, and in Villanueva town in Misamis Oriental.

The fake cigarettes were also marked with bogus BIR tax stamps.

The contraband fake items were concealed inside sacks and boxes disguised as appliances.

Alberto Daba, regional investigation division chief for BIR Revenue Region 16 told reporters here that they used their “Taggant Reader,” a handheld device  which determines the authenticity of the tax stamp. All recovered stamps were fakes. 

Nolan Gadia, NBI 10 special investigator said that the value of fake cigarettes could be well around P60 million.

“They sell this fake product cheaply and they do not pay taxes,” Gadia said.

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 brands inside the boxes randomly opened by NBI were brands such as More, Marvels, Mighty, and Fort cigarettes.

The NBI however did not identify owners of the warehouse or the suspected owners of the contraband pending investigation.

The suspects will be facing charges of violating revenue regulation 7-2014 which requires placing Internal Revenue Stamps (IRS) on imported and locally manufactured cigarettes and using the IRS integrated system for the ordering, distribution and monitoring.

Selling fake cigarettes deprives the government of billions of pesos of taxes.

Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, said in a statement on the DOF website said that he asked the BIR to work closely with DILG and local government units (LGUs) to end on illegal tobacco trade.

Dominguez said he already got a commitment from DILG Secretary Eduardo Año on working with BIR in filing charges against officials for their lack of action against fake cigarettes. – Rappler.com