• Selective probe of tobacco firms hit

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    CONGRESS and other investigating bodies of the government should conduct their investigation on a wide range and refrain from singling out a company suspected of committing isolations to avoid unnecessary damage to other firms that employ Filipinos.

    This was the appeal made by Rep. Rodel Batocabe of Ako-Bicol party-list in connection with the ongoing probe in the House of Representatives on “unscrupulous entities” in the cigarette industry.

    Batocabe, a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, in a statement said that investigation should focus on the entire tobacco industry and not single out one company.

    The party-list lawmaker was referring to the allegations of under-declaration of products by local player Mighty Corp. (MC), to reduce its tax payments.

    MC manufactures and sells cigarettes retailed at P1 per stick, which categorizes the products under the low-end tier subject to the cheapest sin tax rate.

    It is the only Filipino owned integrated tobacco producer of popular, low-priced cigarette brands, such as “La Campanilla,” “Magkaibigan,” “Campana Ringing Bell,” which are “totally and truly Filipino.”

    “As member of the Ways and Means committee, I believe that any investigation to be conducted should be objective and fair,” Batocabe said.

    Although he considers the ongoing probe being conducted by the Committee on Ways and Means headed by Rep. Romero Federico “Miro” Quimbo of Marikina City is necessary to protect the tobacco industry and government, the probe should look at the issue on all angles so as not to prejudge and single out anybody.

    Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list, on the other hand said that local companies such as MC should be supported for providing livelihood to millions of Filipinos apart from the fact that it is paying billions in taxes to the government.

    “ . . . We will always be in defense of national firms against offensives of foreign firms to force it out of business,” he added, MC’s legal counsel Miguelito Ocampo denied all allegations against the Filipino cigarette firm and maintained that the company has lower overhead and production costs because it sources its services, management, and materials locally.

    Jefferson Antiporda

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    7 Comments

    1. carlos quidlat on

      This is the problem of a company that does not want to face its responsibilities. And our publicity hungry lawmakers can easily be swayed. Patriotism cannot be equated to cheating. A cheater must be punished.

    2. Juan Crisostomo on

      I agree that the government should be unbiased and take no sides with investigations. But I think this congressman is barking up the wrong tree. It was already in the news before that the BIR posted a 24 hour watch on PMFTC’s warehouses while it only posted an 8 hour watch on Mighty’s. Looks like this congressman isn’t either doing his research, or MIGHT be favoring Mighty for reasons “unknown”.

    3. Crispin Basilio on

      “Batocabe, a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, in a statement said that investigation should focus on the entire tobacco industry and not single out one company.” – is this guy really a congressman? Is he trying to disregard the study presented to the committee against Mighty and try to throw a blanket against other companies when they do not have proof of wrongdoing?WOW!

    4. Carlos Quidlat on

      A company that cheats government should be supported? Is that how our lawmakers think nowadays? No wonder it is very easy for them to cheat the public.

    5. There really is a need to look into all issues, but, more importantly, lawmakers should determine whether the law that they crafted benefited the few especially those willing to use it to take advantage of government revenue loopholes.

    6. What Mighty Corp should do is answer these allegations by presenting evidences and documents instead of looking to their politician friends to defend them.