THE National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR) seized approximately P13.73 billion of counterfeit products valued at P13.73 billion in the seven months to July.

In a statement Saturday, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) said that seizures during the period were equivalent to nearly 60% of the 2018 total.

Partially validated data accounting for a fifth of the total inventory found that top seizures included counterfeit branded cigarette and alcohol products; pharmaceutical and personal products; and handbags and wallets.

IPOPHIL said that NCIPR has yet to authenticate an additional P8 billion of mostly tobacco products seized by the National Bureau of Investigation and the P3.9 billion haul of mostly wearable items seized by the Bureau of Customs.

NCIPR is preparing for a rise in counterfeits of cigarette products following expected tobacco excise tax hikes in 2020.

“The implementation of the hike in taxes on tobacco will start next year. Also, we are closely watching developments on the proposal to impose taxes on alcohol,” IPOPHL Director-General and NCIPR vice-chair Josephine R. Santiago said.

“As early as now, we are readying ourselves for the possible rise of counterfeiting of these products by intensifying our exploration of new enforcement strategies to employ,” she added.

Senate Bill 2233 approved a tax rate of P45 per pack in 2020, increasing by P5 each year until the rate reaches P60 in 2023.

Cigarette products last year set a record for NCIPR seizures, accounting for 85.81% of the inventory at P20.25 billion. — Jenina P. Ibañez