A movement that fights illegal activities which destroys the country’s economy vowed to actively collaborate with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to put an end to massive smuggling and illicit trade in the country.
In a statement, industrialist Jesus Arranza, chairman of Fight Illicit Trade (Fight IT), said his group “will help the NBI by providing actionable intelligence on the ground, taking into consideration the need for confidentiality, data protection reliability and security in dealing with the investigation and prosecution of illegal traders.”
Fight IT’s assistance to the NBI came in following intelligence reports that smuggling and illicit trade remain rampant despite NBI efforts to go after people behind the illegal business.
Smuggling and illicit trade are described in Philippine laws as forms of economic sabotage because of its impact on the economy.
NBI Director Virgilio Mendez welcomed Fight IT’s support saying “the help of the private sector would be vital in the bureau’s campaign for intelligence gathering, enforcement and all the way down to prosecution.”
Arranza said Fight IT members will provide the NBI with logistical assistance such as warehouses where the bureau can store seized or confiscated items to preserve evidence until final conviction and court-ordered disposition or destruction.
Fight IT is a broad-based, multi-sectoral movement intended to protect consumers, safeguard government revenues and shield legitimate industries from the ill-effects of smuggling and other forms illegal business activities.
The movement, whose members belong to the anti-smuggling committee of the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), was launched last year.
Specifically, Fight IT is an alliance that brings together major players from industries engaged in business whose products are commonly smuggled such as rice, sugar, corn, palm oil, tobacco, steel, cement, ceramic tiles among others.
The NBI and Fight IT agreed that they will also work with intellectual property groups to go after counterfeiters and those selling fake branded products.
Upon the request of the NBI, Arranza said Fight IT will organize training sessions for the bureau’s personnel to help them spot or identify fake products from cigarettes, shampoos to cell phones and tablets.
“The growing incidence of illicit trade and its damaging effects on industries and the consumers, not to mention its impact on government revenue owing to foregone customs duties and excise taxes, are concerns that prompted us to take a more encompassing campaign to involve local industries and the public,” stressed Arranza, who is also the FPI chairman.
“Illicit trade is a serious economic problem that robs the government of billions of pesos in revenues, harms consumers, and undercuts legitimate local manufacturers,” he added.