MANILA—The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is gathering all relevant pieces of evidence against those behind the importation of counterfeit cigarettes worth over PHP2 billion recently seized in separate raids in three provinces.
In a statement, Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said these will be submitted to the Legal Service to build a case against the perpetrators of the illegal importation.
Earlier, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III urged the BOC and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to file cases against those responsible for the PHP2.307 billion worth of counterfeit products and cigarettes with fake tax stamps that were seized by bureau operatives.
Last March 1, the BOC’s Special Studies and Project Development Committee (SSPDC), BIR and other law enforcement agencies, around 11,000 master cases of assorted counterfeit cigarettes, estimated at Php215 million were seized in General Santos City.
On the same day, some 62,000 cases of fake cigarettes valued at PHP1.957 billion was apprehended in Pampanga.
Last month, the BOC confiscated around 400 master cases of counterfeit cigarettes with an estimated value of PHP13.5 million in Zamboanga.
The bureau has the authority to seize smuggled cigarette packs bearing fake tax stamps found on the premises of cigarette manufacturing or storage facilities or those found in the domestic market pursuant to its border security mandate under Executive Order (EO) No. 127 (s. 1987) and in accordance with its powers and functions as a member-agency of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) created by virtue of EO 624 (s. 2007).
Moreover, pursuant to the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), BOC has jurisdiction over imported articles and maintains jurisdiction over the same during the entire period of importation. Such jurisdiction is terminated only upon payment of lawful duties, taxes and other charges due upon the imported goods. Thus, the subject raids were conducted in valid exercise of the BOC’s power to curb and eliminate smuggling, illegal importation and other forms of customs fraud.
“We are confident that while BOC is still conducting further investigation, there is already a strong tax evasion case that the BIR can pursue, as this is outside our jurisdiction,” Faeldon said.
He also assured the public that the bureau will further tighten its enforcement initiatives to prevent the proliferation of counterfeit goods and other smuggled products in the market.