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With no cases against it, Mighty gets permits

/ 06:08 AM December 01, 2014

MANILA, Philippines–Despite smuggling and and tax-evasion issues raised earlier by a Department of Finance task force against Mighty Corp., the low-cost cigarette manufacturer has been issued an importer accreditation by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and a clearance certificate by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

The Customs certificate, signed by Jemina Sy-Flores, head of the BOC Intelligence Group’s Account Management Office (AMO), is valid until

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June 19, 2017.

The BIR document that Rosana San Vicente, head of the BIR’s Accounts Receivable Monitoring Division (ARMD), issued on June 19 did not specify its validity date.

The Customs Public Information and Assistance Division earlier said that for the record, no illicit trade practices-related case had been filed against Mighty Corp.

However, a BOC administrative order, issued in January, suspending the firm’s customs bonded warehouse operations remained in force.

The “24/7 monitoring” by a BIR team of Mighty’s nine-hectare fully integrated manufacturing and processing plant in Malolos, Bulacan, also continues.

The finance department has also required the firm to pay nearly P1 billion in customs duties and taxes for the importation of raw cigarette materials.

Not blacklisted

A top Customs official interviewed for this story clarified that “despite the fines imposed on Mighty Corp., it was neither blacklisted nor prevented from importing tobacco leaves and other cigarette-production materials.”

Oscar Barrientos, Mighty executive vice president, said the firm would use more local tobacco products for the company’s expanding product line, as well as locally blended cigarettes for export.

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“We are working closely with local farmers and our tobacco suppliers here in planning and implementing our expansion program…We plan to export local tobacco as we move forward and compete in both the local and foreign markets,” he said.

Asked about the full-page advertisements placed by Philip Morris-Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) in several broadsheets, including the Inquirer, attacking Mighty, Barrientos said PMFTC was “out to kill all low-priced local cigarette brands by hook or by crook.”

“They have accused us of smuggling, tax evasion and all other possible crimes. These are baseless and malicious accusations which mask the real agenda of our competitor, which is to kill off all other local brands after taking control of over 90 percent of the local market,” he said.

Mighty, he said, would “fight them, for sure. It’s an uphill battle, but we cannot allow a foreign bully to trample upon on us and other Filipino companies that it views as a threat to its campaign for market domination.”

“It’s a shame that such a big company has to resort to lies and deceit,” he said.

Barrientos said Mighty’s “competitor has foisted this ridiculous accusation that because we’re doing well, we’ve been doing something wrong. This shows how skewed its line of thinking is.”

“We improved the quality of our products to give the market value for money. We are obviously more efficient when it comes to production costs. And we don’t remit our earnings to our foreign mother company,” he added.

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TAGS: Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Business, cigarettes, competition, Mighty Corp.
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