PNP arrests 2 more fake cigarette traders

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THE Philippine National Police (PNP), in hot pursuit of untaxed and other prohibited products, arrested two fake cigarette traders in San Mateo, Isabela, recently.

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Arrested were Analiza Bartolome, 38, and Dominador Pascua, 43, of Angadanan town in Isabela whoi were caught while in the act of selling fake Mighty and Marvels brand cigarettes.

Police responded to the complaint of a Mighty employee who chanced upon the two on board a tricycle without a license plate doing the rounds in Purok 3, Barangay Victoria, while in possession of boxes of the contraband items.

The suspects were charged for violation of Section 155 (trademark infringement), in relation to Section 170 of Republic Act 8293, or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines which carries a penalty of two to five years’ imprisonment and a fine ranging from P50,000 to P200,000.

Industry observers attribute the proliferation of fake cigarettes to the rising prices of the product by virtue of the implementation of the Sin Tax Law almost three years ago.

Fake cigarette products are tempting to retailers as they promise higher profit margins while essentially undercutting the government in due taxes.

Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) officials had warned retailers to only deal with official company personnel bearing legitimate identification and company-marked vehicles or face the consequence of the law.

Over the last two years, combined effort of the BIR, PNP, Bureau of Customs and the National Bureau of Investigation have led to the arrest of many suspects, including two minors, connected to the smuggling, distribution and sale of large quantities of fake cigarette brands.

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