THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) said it seized illicit cigarette and tobacco products valued at P1.89 billion as of the end of July.

The BoC’s collections from such seizures this year have so far exceeded its year-earlier proceeds of P1.13 billion by 67%.

“The BoC is confident that we will have more seizures. We will continue to strengthen our efforts against smuggling,” Director of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) Verne Y. Enciso told reporters on Thursday.

Mr. Enciso said that a raid in Sulu accounted for much of the growth this year.

Carried out in March, the raid on a Sulu warehouse resulted in the seizure of 19,000 cases or 190 million sticks of illicit cigarettes valued at P1.4 billion.

Since 2019, Customs said such seizures have amounted to P13.18 billion from 756 separate operations. 

The National Tobacco Administration said that foregone revenue due to the illicit tobacco trade are expected to exceed P30 billion this year. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson