• Courts should decide on fake stamps – group

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    An industry leader said the government should leave it to the courts to decide on who should be punished in connection with the discovery of over P2-billion worth of cigarettes with alleged fake stamps by the Bureaus of Customs and Internal Revenue (BIR).

    “The war on illicit trade is not about personalities, nationalities, company size and market dominance. It is about the full implementation of Philippine tax and criminal laws, upon which those who violate these laws must be punished, regardless of company size and the nationalities of those involved in it,” Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) Chairman and Fight Illicit Trade (Fight IT) convenor Jesus Lim Arranza said over the weekend.

    He expressed confidence that President Rodrigo Duterte will take into account the provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code which provide that the amount of settlement should not be less than ten times the amount of taxes evaded.

    “For sure, he will put in place conditions to prevent the occurrence of the same offense in the future,” Arranza said.

    Earlier, Duterte ordered local cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corp. to pay the government P3 billion — which he later modified to P5 billion — as compromise settlement for tax evasion.

    According to Arranza, the government’s campaign against illicit trade, which is also the advocacy of his group Fight IT, stressed that there are laws and legal options for those suspected to be involved in the proliferation of fake BIR stamps.

    “Let us leave it to the courts to evaluate the merits of the complaints filed or to be filed against those involved in the illicit trade of tobacco,” Arranza said.

    He hailed the government for its real and determined campaign against illicit trade.

    “Illicit trade is a big scourge to the country’s economy,” Arranza said.

    Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd had said the BIR is still determining the correct amount that Mighty should pay in deficiency taxes.

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