DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Truckloads of of confiscated cigarettes were destroyed at the incinerator of Holcim Philippines Geocycle compound in Ilang, Bunawan district here early today November 26, 2017.
The government confiscated some 20 truckloads of cigarette packs with fake tax stamps allegedly produced by Mighty Corporation (MC).
The illegally distributed cigarettes were confiscated by operatives from the Bureau on Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs in a raid from the different outlets and warehouses in the cities of Davao, Zamboanga, General Santos, Tacloban and Cebu few months ago.
The cigarette corporation sold the company to a Japan Tobacco International (JTI) to augment the P25-billion tax which the government demanded them to pay as they violated the government tobacco regulation and tax laws by using counterfeit tax stamps.
Some 9,496 master cases equivalent to 4,748,000 cigarette packs of Mighty Menthol 100s, Marvels Menthol, Marvels FK and King Full Flavor brands were destroyed.
The cigarettes were destroyed using the “co-processing” method which ensures total thermal destruction of waste materials, reduces toxic gas emissions and land and groundwater pollution.
Finance Assistant Secretary Kelvin Lee, from the Office of the Executive Secretary, spearheaded the event along with BIR Assistant Commissioner Teresita Angeles, who heads the bureau’s Large Taxpayers’ Service (LTS); BIR Davao Regional Director Nuzar Balatero; BIR Revenue Region No. 18 – Koronadal City Regional Director Esmeralda Tabule; and Jeper Ylagan senior environmental management specialist of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Also in attendance were Alejandro Cenon Paje, senior technical officer of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines; Cyril Lubaton of Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and representatives of the soon-to-be defunct Mighty Corp.
“The decision to destroy these confiscated cigarettes came easily. We imposed sin taxes on these products in part to protect the health of our people. It would be wrong to release these products to the market,” said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III in his remarks read by Lee.
According to the BIR, the estimated deficiency excise tax liability of the seized cigarettes, including penalties, would have amounted to PHP1.39 billion.
The BIR said the warehouse, where the cigarettes were seized, belong to Sunshine Cornmill Corp. managed by Rosie and Alicia Liang.
The government is also set to destroy 66,245 cases of Mighty cigarettes confiscated in San Simon, Pampanga, another 163,183 cases in San Ildefonso, Bulacan and other smaller stockpiles confiscated in Tacloban and Cebu.
The complaints against Mighty had since been withdrawn after the company, with main headquarters in Bulacan, offered last July to settle its tax liabilities with the government for PHP25 billion and shut down its operations.
Even after the confiscation of might corporations products, still fake cigarettes flood in the different parts of the country, as law enforcement agencies suffers the lack of human resources to do the monitoring work.
Often law enforcers and unscrupulous traders play cat and mouse in the world of contraband while cigarette consumers struggle to identify the original form the fake one.
Given the magnitude of the contraband problem, the government which has so many laws against illegal products, has yet to embark on a massive information /education on fake products so that consumers will not be cheated.-Editha Z. Caduaya with reports from PNA