Bulacan factory shuttered for fake Philip Morris, Mighty cigarettes
Authorities have shuttered a factory in Bulacan that manufactured fake Philip Morris as well as Mighty cigarettes, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said.
Dominguez recently told reporters that with the increase in prices of cigarettes under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act, the government is also on the lookout for smuggled cigarettes.
“Since we raised cigarette prices, obviously there will be more incentive to smuggle, so we have to watch out,” Dominguez said.
Under the TRAIN Law or Republic Act No. 10963, the unitary excise tax slapped on cigarettes rose to P32.50 per pack effective Jan. 1 from P30 a pack last year.
Last Thursday night, joint operatives of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group as well as the Business Permits and Licensing Office of Guiguinto, Bulacan raided a cigarette factory churning out fake cigarettes in the municipality, Dominguez said in a text message to reporters.
“Initially believed to be a warehouse for illicit cigarettes, the place turned out to be a counterfeit factory at the back end of the site,” Dominguez said.
The factory, located inside RIS Compound in Barangay Tabe, was allegedly owned by an Edward Ang, the Finance chief said.
Citing a report of PMFTC Inc., Dominguez said that “the products found at the site are counterfeit and the facility raided is not an authorized factory of PMFTC.”
Also, photos taken at the site showed that “there are more Mighty products under production,” Dominguez added.
A PMFTC report showed that the inspection resulted in the discovery of two cigarette makers, one line cigarette maker and packer, hand-packing and sealing equipment, as well as boxes of fake tax stamps.
Also discovered were boxes of filter rods, packaging materials, cut fillers, empty master cases, filter papers and other raw materials.
Among the fake PMFTC products found included those of the brands Marlboro (black and red), Fortune (green and red), Jackpot, Mark and Champion.
Packs of fake Mighty Green and Marvels were also found at the factory, besides those of the brands Two Moon, Fort and Union.
Authorities held one Chinese national identified as Jacky Ang, wife of the owner Edward, on top of over 70 factory workers who reportedly all came from Mindanao.
“The factory was located inside a warehouse and the access inside is hidden by piles of plastic materials,” according to PMFTC’s report.
“We hope the Bureau of Internal Revenue and/or the Bureau of Customs’ representatives can proceed to the site to secure, investigate and prosecute those responsible,” Dominguez said.
The Finance chief disclosed that during the past four months, authorities already discovered two factories of fake cigarettes in Bulacan province.
“The other factory was discovered in Meycauayan Industrial Park last November 29 after it was razed by fire,” according to Dominguez.
For his part, Japan Tobacco International Philippines general manager Manos Koukourakis said in a text message to reporters: “We commend the BIR, the local government unit of Bulacan and law enforcement authorities for this successful raid on a secret factory producing illicit cigarettes.”
“The Department of Finance Secretary’s call for continued vigilance against illicit trade like smuggling and counterfeiting of cigarettes is bearing positive results,” Koukourakis said. JTI Philippines now owns the Mighty brand.
“The raid also meant that millions of tax revenues were just saved and essentially recovered from the syndicates,” Koukourakis added.
“JTI commits to step up support for this campaign in order to stamp out smuggling and other illicit activities that deny the government billions in revenues, defame our country and put to greater danger the health of smokers,” according to Koukourakis.
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