Assorted illicit cigarettes seized
AN entrapment operation by law enforcement units in Bicol was conducted in a barangay in Pili, Camarines Sur last August 10 leading to the arrest of six individuals who were caught in the act of selling and trading counterfeit cigarettes in a village market.
Operatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Camarines Sur together with personnel from the Special Operations Group (SOG) CIDG-Regional Field Unit and Pili Municipal Police Station conducted the buy-bust operation under its OPLAN MEGA SHOPPER program in Bgy. New San Roque, Pili, Camarines Sur.
Some 700 reams of assorted counterfeit brands such as fake Marlboro, Fortune, Jackpot, Mighty and Marvels were also confiscated by the authorities estimated to be worth at least P265,000.
The authorities also confiscated one gray-colored van with plate number VDA357, as well as cash amounting to P132,000.
The six arrested individuals with the confiscated illicit cigarettes were brought to the Camarines Sur PNP headquarters for documentation and proper disposition.
Charges of violation of anti-smuggling and other relevant laws will be filed against the suspects.
Last week, 24 retail outlets were raided by a joint operation team of National Bureau of Investigation and Navy Intelligence Service in a remote coastal town in Palawan for also selling illegal cigarettes allegedly coming from Malaysia.
The selling or trading of counterfeit or illicit cigarettes is in violation RA 8424 or the National Internal Revenue Code as amended, which sets the guidelines on the proper payment of duties and taxes for cigarette products, as well as RA 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code which protects the copyrights of the products of businesses or individuals.
The government loses about P30 billion to P60 billion a year from illicit trade in cigarettes based on estimates by the House committee on ways and means. Taxes collected from cigarettes are used to fund the Universal Health Care program of the government.
For this year, the government targets to collect P2.081 trillion, 16 percent of which will come from excise taxes paid for tobacco, alcohol, fuel, soda and automobiles. In 2020, the government collected P148.45 billion in excise taxes from the tobacco Industry alone.
THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) set up a task force to find Investigation Agent I Merton T. Fesway, who has gone missing and is believed to be a victim of abduction.
PDEA Director General Wilkins M Villanueva signed an Agency Order creating “Task Force Fesway”- a 24-man intelligence and investigation team, to expedite the search for the missing anti-drug operative.
Fesway, a 38-year-old native of Samoki, Bontoc, Mountain Province, is assigned at the PDEA Regional Office III Pampanga Provincial Office in Angeles, Pampanga. He reportedly went missing since the evening of June 25, 2021.
Based on the initial investigation, Fesway was supposed to meet a confidential informant prior to his sudden disappearance.
“Hindi kami titigil sa paghahanap hanggang matagpuan namin si Fesway. Umaasa kami na siya ay ligtas at nasa mabuting kalagayan,” Villanueva said.