BIR suspects huge illegal cigarettes trade in Central Luzon
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Revenue Region 4 said the apprehension of nearly 500 cases of cigarettes without tax stamps is an indication of a huge illegal cigarettes trade in Central Luzon. Revenue collectors and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents earlier jointly seized 480 cases of cigarettes without tax stamps. BIR Regional Director Jethro Sabariaga said the government was owed P7.2 million in tax stamps for the items. The cigarettes were discovered in warehouse store of Collete’s PX Store in Cabanatuan City. Under Section 172 of the Tax Code, the BIR may detain products when it has good reason to believe that the proper excise taxes were not paid.
The joint BIR-NBI Enforcement Team seized various illicit whites such as Two Moon, Farstar, D&B, Black Bat, RGD, Twin Star and Seneca, among others. It was not yet known whether the items were authentic. Industry sources estimated the street value of the items at P6.25 million, if sold at P25 per pack. Sabariaga said the presence of the warehouse is an indication of a bigger operation of selling cigarettes without the proper tax stamps. Sabariaga said there have been a number of cases of cigarettes with unpaid tax stamps in the region since late last year. He added that more operations are underway to curtail the illicit activity. Authorities seized fake cigarettes worth over P1 billion, fake tax stamps worth approximately P175 million, raw materials, machines for cigarette manufacturing and other paraphernalia in separate raids in Pangasinan, Pampanga and Bulacan in November last year.