THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) seized some P200 million worth of counterfeit apparel and other products in simultaneous raids on three buildings located along Cuneta Avenue in Pasay City.
Customs Commissioner Nicanor E. Faeldon said on Friday that the operations were part of BOC’s stringent counter-measures against all forms of smuggling of fake products into the country in grave violation of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8293 or the Intellectual Property (IP) Code of the Philippines and RA 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act of 2016.
“Our relentless campaigns against smuggling of products with fake brand names keep the Philippines out of the list of notorious countries with inadequate protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) to date,” Faeldon said.
“Keeping out of the IP watch list gives confidence to foreign investors, especially US companies, to do business in the Philippines, as required by the World Trade Organization’s rule-based trade IP system. It also underscores effective protection to Filipino consumers,” Faeldon added.
BOC’s spokesperson Col. Neil Anthony L. Estrella, concurrent director of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS), reported that the raids were conducted at One Logistics Building and YS Building in Pasay City.
Estrella said that combined agents of the CIIS and the Intellectual Property Rights Division (IPRD), armed with a letter of authority (LOA) and supported by local police and barangay officials, conducted the simultaneous operations.
Inside One Logistics Building, at least 21 stalls/doors on the 3rd, 5th, and 6th floors were found with counterfeit apparel with such brand names like Nike, Adidas, Armou All, Vans, Lacoste; their value was estimated at P100 million.
At YS Building, some 11 stalls/doors were found with a stash of fake clothing with brand names like Jag, Wrangler, Under Armour, Superman, NBA, valued at more or less P100 million.
“We conducted these raids to enforce the law and protect Filipino consumers from the bad effects of smuggling fake products. It is assumed that their owners have deliberately avoided paying taxes,” Estrella said.
Estrella said a certain James Chua introduced himself as the owner of YS building. He will be required to provide, within 15 days, documentary evidence of lawful importation of the counterfeit goods in his building.
Estrella added that if Chua and the owners of the confiscated smuggled counterfeit apparel will not be able to provide proper documents covering the importation of the goods, the BOC will padlock the stalls and seize all of the questioned products in favor of the government. The products will also be destroyed to prevent their commercial distribution in the market.
IPRD chief, Atty. Zsae Carrie De Guzman, said that her office has escalated its campaign against piracy and counterfeiting to avoid lost revenues estimated at some P13.3 billion per year.
“It is the mandate of the BOC to run after smugglers of fake brand names, thus, we will keep fighting against them, and good businessmen who dutifully pay correct taxes to the government will be protected, aside from our intent to promote full respect for intellectual property rights,” she said. WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL