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Cigarettes top fake-goods seizures amid rising taxes

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PHILSTAR

CIGARETTES accounted for the bulk of the pirated and counterfeit goods seized by the government in 2018, setting new records in terms of value.

In a statement Thursday, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHIL) said the interagency National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR), where it serves as vice-chair, seized a total of P23.6 billion worth of fake goods, much higher than the 2017 level of P8.2 billion.

In 2018, cigarettes accounted for 85.81% of the value of the seizures or P20.25 billion.

Seized pharmaceutical and personal care products came in second in terms of value, with the 2018 haul amounting to P1.2 billion.

The NCIPR seized P821 million worth of fake handbags and wallets, while optical media came in fourth at P790 million.

The report noted that “value of fake goods confiscated by the government fluctuates every year and it depends on the class of goods and the market value of the original goods in the formal economy.”




IPOPHL Director General Josephine R. Santiago said that the report shows how illegal traders “are apparently shifting to heavily-taxed goods.”

Last year, Republic Act 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) imposed a P5 or 17% tax increase on cigarettes in 2018 — P2.50 in the first half and another P2.50 in the second half.

Tobacco tax hikes are pending approval, under Package 2 of the tax overhaul policy and Senate Bills 1599 and 1605, with the proceeds to fund public health spending.

Ms. Santiago called on brand owners to get involved.

“Enforcement efforts should not end with seizures, but follow through with convictions of the perpetrators. Bringing them to justice, get the public to actively reject counterfeits,” she added.

In the wake of the 2018 seizures, NCIPR members such as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) filed a total of 143 cases, while the PNP and FDA carried out 82 arrests in relation to these counterfeit goods.

The Bureau of Customs seized P11 billion worth of goods; the NBI P5.3 billion; the PNP P1.4 billion; the Optical Media Board at P790 million; and the FDA at P5.8 million.

Joint operations of PNP-Criminal Investigation Detection Group, Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Internal Revenue and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency brought in P5 billion. — Janina C. Lim