Mighty Corporation, the country’s oldest cigarette manufacturer, described as fair and laudable the move of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to include Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC) and other players in its fake stamps investigation.
Retired Regional Trial Court Judge Oscar P. Barrientos, Mighty vice president and spokesman, said the company has no problems with the BIR or the Bureau of Customs because its operation has always been transparent and in accordance with laws.
Mighty dismissed allegations that it was using fake strip stamps, claiming that the BIR is closely monitoring production and withdrawal at its only factory in Bulacan. The company said it was the first to install CCTV cameras to monitor its operations in compliance with BIR regulations.
“It is unfair to single out Mighty. We should also investigate others to get to the bottom of the problem and determine where the counterfeits are coming,” BIR Deputy Commissioner for Legal Service Jesus Clint Aranas said.
Philip Morris said it welcomes the probe.
“PMFTC Inc. welcomes any investigation into the proliferation of fake tax stamps on cigarette packs. We hope the Bureau of Internal Revenue will closely examine the entire manufacturing and distribution supply chain to ensure 100 percent compliance and take swift enforcement of action where needed,” it said in a statement.
Aranas said that the BIR is expanding its probe into the widespread use of fake tax stamps on cigarette packs to cover all manufacturers and importers.
He said the government is losing billions of pesos in revenues yearly through this tax avoidance scheme.
“It is not only here that Philip Morris is being investigated for fraud,” Barrientos said, adding that the firm is also being probed in Thailand and South Korea.
The BIR restored the use of tax stamps in 2014 to tighten monitoring and enforcement of the sin tax law and collect the right amount of excise, income and value added taxes from this source.