Authorities confiscate P358 million worth of counterfeit cigarettes from Cavite factories


Authorities confiscated P358 million worth of counterfeit cigarettes from two factories and a warehouse in Cavite province on Thursday.

Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents seized 3.12 million packs of illicit cigarettes and eight illegal cigarette-making and packing machines in simultaneous raids in Dasmarinas City and Indang, Cavite.

“This is a part of the direction given by BIR Commissioner Romeo Lumagui Jr. to intensify the campaign against illicit cigarettes and plug the billions of pesos lost by the government to this illegal activity.  This does not only pose a threat to public health, but also has a significant negative effect on the economy,” said Eric Diesto, BIR regional director for Revenue Region No. 9A or CaBaMiRo which covers the provinces of Cavite, Batangas, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro and Romblon.

NBI Intellectual Property Rights Division (IPRD) chief Jesus Manapat said the “concerted effort aims to thwart illegal operations by organized crime syndicates, especially those involving foreign nationals, and to protect our people from the harmful effects of illegal cigarettes.”

“By putting a stop to the selling and manufacturing of illegal cigarettes, we are also hoping to help bolster economic activities, employment and to provide our local farmers better opportunities,” said Manapat.

The operation led by BIR Regional Investigation Division-CaBaMiRo chief Atty. Jason Torres and NBI-IPRD executive officer John Ignacio is a part of the government’s intensified campaign against the continuing proliferation of illegal cigarettes, which account for P50 billion to P100 billion in tax revenue losses annually, according to the BIR.

The raiding teams seized 1.6 million packs of illicit cigarettes worth P184.7 million from the warehouse in Dasmarinas. The Indang factory yielded another 1.1 million packs of illicit cigarettes worth another P126.6 million, with two lines of cigarette making machines and two lines of cigarette packing machines.

Meanwhile, a separate factory in Dasmarinas also housed two lines of cigarette making machines and two lines of cigarette packing machines and storing 408,000 packs valued at P46.76 million.

Each machine line is capable of producing 175 packs per minute or up to 43.7 million packs a year, which would translate to about P2.7 billion in lost basic excise tax revenues if they would continue illegal production, according to estimates.

Among the brands seized in the warehouse are Carnival, HP, Troy, Cannon, Victor Agila, New Orleans, Two Moon and Fort, which are all unregistered with the BIR and do not bear tax stamps nor the mandatory Department of Health’s graphic health warnings.

The authorities are following up the investigation as 12 Chinese nationals were said to be manning the operations.  The land and the buildings were found to be on lease.

It was the culmination of the series of surveillance by the NBI to weed out organized crimes. Acting on the intelligence provided by NBI, the BIR issued mission orders to proceed with the raid

Diesto said the raid is just the one of many BIR and law enforcement operations. “The government is serious about the fight against illicit tobacco trade, and we are doing everything to follow the mandate of the President to go after criminals,” he said.

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