MANILA— The Bureau of Customs (BOC) seized counterfeit cigarettes and food items worth PHP300 million in two separate raids in Manila and Quezon City on Thursday.
Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña said the fake cigarettes with different brands as well as Safeguard soaps, Maggi Magic Sarap, and Knorr Sinigang mix products were found inside several warehouses along Ventura Street in Masambong and Kanlaon Street, in Blumentrit Manila and Quezon City, respectively.
He noted that the confiscation of several boxes containing the bogus items, which were from China, was a result of two-month surveillance activities by the BOC’s Enforcement and Security Service (ESS).
“This came about because of the report of our concerned citizens about suspicious items coming in and out of these warehouses,” the BOC chief said.
Lapeña added that the warehouses are owned by a certain Erlina Rico, also known as Linda Chua.
He advised the public not to patronize counterfeit items particularly food products as it may be harmful to health.
Meanwhile, Lapeña denied the text messages that he is soliciting monetary assistance for charity projects.
“I never authorized or ordered anyone from my office to solicit money on my behalf. I am also not involved in any fundraising activity as reportedly claimed by Vasquez,” he said in a statement.
The BOC recently received reports from concerned customs brokers that a certain Atty. Vasquez claiming as the chief of staff of Lapeña called and sent them messages asking brokers and importers to give money or donations for charity purposes and/or fundraising efforts allegedly initiated by Lapeña.
Based on the reports, Vasquez was selling raffle tickets worth PHP15,000 as church donation and soliciting money for a BOC charity project in Zambales, wherein he even mentioned the name of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as a project partner.
According to reports, Vasquez sent text messages and called using the mobile numbers 0956-870-0861 and 0956-218-1895.
Targeted individuals were also asked to deposit donations through money transfer.