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BIR confiscates P100-M fake cigarettes

ILIGAN CITY – More than 100 million-peso worth of cigarettes were confiscated on Thursday morning (May 9) during an operation conducted by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Intellectual Property Rights and the Iligan City Police Office (ICPO).

Armed with a 'mission order' from the BIR Region X, the operatives raided two houses in Isabel Village, Barangay Palao, this city, rented by a Chinese businessman whose identity was not disclosed by the police.

Authorities were met by a middle-aged Filipina woman, who introduced herself as the house cook, and a Chinese man, named Wang Jian Min, who introduced himself as cousin of the business-owner.

Alberto Daba, chief revenue officer of the Regional Investigation Division of BIR-X, said the operation was conducted following an intelligence report from the ICPO operatives that the house, which served as warehouse of a Chinese businesman, has fake cigarettes stored in it.

"It is fake because on the part of the BIR, the stamps are fake. Under the provisions of the national internal revenue code particularly section 265 of the Tax Code of 1997, it unlawfully possessed spurious internal revenue stamps and as penalized under the law," Daba said in an interview.

One hundred master cases of Two Moon cigarettes were confiscated from the first house with estimated market value of 25 million pesos.

While the inventory was ongoing, the owner of the house, who requested not to be named, arrived and gave permission to authorities to also check the other house he also owned just beside the first house.

"The two houses are rented by only one person, a Chinese businesman. I only knew his business is spare parts, I did not know he is also into selling of fake cigarettes," said the house owner.

At the second house, 387 master cases of various brands of cigarettes were found that has estimated market value of more than 75 million pesos but the owner of the business were not around.

Daba said with the number of cases confiscated, the government has 84 million peso excise tax loss revenue.

The cigarettes were taken custody by BIR-X at their office in Cagayan de Oro City while Wang was taken custody by the Iligan City Police Office for filing of the following charges: unlawful pursuit of business, failure to file excise tax returns, unlawful possession or removal of articles subject to excise tax without payment of tax and attempt to defeat or evade excise tax.

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