THE Philippine government has asked Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to take down an advertisement on its website selling fake Philippine cigarette tax stamps.
“We would like to respectfully request that Alibaba cooperate with the government of the Republic of the Philippines by immediately stopping such advertisement and prohibiting similar advertisements in the future,” Finance Secretary Carlos Domiguez 3rd said in a March 10 letter addressed to Alibaba chairman Jack Ma.
“Advertising and selling of fake tax stamps in the open, through your company’s web portal, provides so much room and easy access for individuals and entities to evade excise tax on cigarettes in the Philippines,” the Finance chief said in the letter, a copy of which was sent to Chinese Ambassador to Manila Zhao Jianhua.
Alibaba’s sale of fake cigarette stamps was found following the discovery by authorities of fake tax stamps at separate raids on cheap cigarette maker Mighty Corp.’s facilities. The government lost some P1 billion in income, according to the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
The raids were conducted in Pampanga and Tacloban. Mighty owner Alexander Wong Chu King is under investigation, and authorities are eyeing economic sabotage and tax evasion charges, which could cost him billions of pesos in penalties.
Wong Chu King, who has been placed on an immigration lookout bulletin, is also being accused of attempting to bribe President Rodrigo Duterte, which Malacañang has denied.
On Friday, the Finance department said it would pursue a tax evasion case against Mighty despite a pronouncement by President Duterte that he was open to a compromise settlement.
Mighty on Friday assured the public it would fully cooperate with government authorities after the President urged it to pay P5 billion in tax deficiencies amid accusations it used counterfeit tax stamps on cigarette packs.
In a statement, Sigfrid Fortun, legal counsel of Mighty, said the firm would do its best to address the issue and achieve the government’s tax collection goal.