THE GOVERNMENT may expand the raids of areas selling counterfeit goods, including two commercial centers in San Juan and Manila that authorities failed to monitor amid a coronavirus pandemic.

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines is targeting Greenhills Shopping Complex in San Juan Divisoria in the capital, Rowel S. Barba, director general of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), said in an online interview.

“Enforcement agencies had problems as far as raids are concerned because of limited physical movements,” he said in mixed English and Filipino. “Hopefully we can do something about Divisoria and Greenhills.”

This year’s raids by police and agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) would depend on information and complaints from brand owners, Mr. Barba said.

The National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR), which includes IPOPHL, seized fake products worth P13.7 billion in the seven months through July 2019. The products included mostly fake brands of cigarette, alcohol, pharmaceutical and personal products. There were also a handful of handbags and wallets.

Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan was in the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) 2019 Notorious Markets list. It said vendors in the area sell large volumes of counterfeit goods such as handbags, shoes, clothing, jewelry, electronics and toys.

“The market has been the subject of raids and monitoring by enforcement officials,” it said. “However, sellers have reportedly been able to evade enforcement by moving to new stalls or by discreetly selling illicit goods behind counters and underneath tables.”

“USTR urges the Philippines to enhance and sustain enforcement actions to deter sales of counterfeit goods at this market.”

IPOPHL said online sales of counterfeit and pirated goods surged during the lockdown. — Jenina P. Ibañez