After months of surveillance, government authorities raided a factory producing counterfeit cigarettes in Dinas town, some 27 km. from this city, early Friday.
Lawyer Moises Tamayo, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regional director, said the warehouse-type factory is located in Barangay San Jose in Dinas.
“We have been operating against them for long, but they transfer locations every now and then. They were here less than a year ago,” Tamayo said.
Authorities seized cigarette-making machines and the line production of cigarettes, such as rolling paper, taping paper, tobacco, and counterfeit stamps of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
The government loses an estimated PHP60 million in taxes every month, Tamayo said, noting that the factory can produce 100 master cases, which totals 50,000 packs of cigarettes daily.
The confiscated counterfeit cigarettes are labeled with such brands as Philip Morris, Fortune, Champion, Marvels, Fort, and Mark and distributed to the various parts of Mindanao, investigators said.
Tamayo said the raiding team consisted of personnel of the NBI, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Customs, and BIR.
Col. Rhode Espero, provincial police director, said Friday the raid came after authorities received a tip-off from a concerned citizen.
“Surveillance was conducted until such time we were able to enter the compound and the warehouse itself and found all these machines and their products,” Espero said.
Dinas Mayor Eleazer Asoy said the factory owner had applied for a seaweed warehouse business permit based on records from his office. It was later converted into a rice mill.
“Rice products played as the front-line business of this warehouse to cover their illegal business,” Asoy said, adding that the property was originally owned by a local businessman before it was sold to a certain Filipino-Chinese in 2018.
Cases for violation of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, Section 260 of the National Internal Revenue Code of the Philippines and Intellectual Property Rights will be filed against the owner of the factory.
Source: Philippines News Agency