• Two sellers of fake cigarettes arrested

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    Two persons found in possession of counterfeit Mighty cigarettes were recently arrested in Barangay Cut-cot, Pulilan, Bulacan.

    Police identified the suspects as Wilfredo Dimaano, 22, and Laarni Leslie Bautista, 21, who were caught with more than 60 reams of Mighty cigarette variants.

    A Mighty Corp. representative certified the products to be fake, citing inconsistencies in the packaging.

    Both suspects were charged with violating Section 155 (trademark infringement) in relation to Section 170 of Republic Act 8293, or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, under Case No. III-04-INV-16K-02327.

    The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has repeatedly warned that any violator caught in possession of any product proven to be fake will incur a penalty of two to five years’ imprisonment and a fine ranging from P50,000 to P200,000.

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), illicit cigarettes generally fall under three classifications:

    • contraband, cigarettes smuggled from overseas without local duties paid;

    • counterfeit, cigarettes manufactured without rightful owners’ authorization and with deceptive intentions as well as avoiding duties; and

    •illicit whites, brands manufactured legitimately in one country but smuggled and sold to another while avoiding duties.

    These illicit cigarettes undercut the government in due taxes and are subject to penalties as prescribed by existing laws.

    Industry observers said counterfeit cigarettes tempt retailers because they turn in higher profit returns while deceiving non-discerning buyers as the products also carry fake cigarette tax stamps.

    Last month, authorities arrested two vendors in Isabela for also selling counterfeit cigarettes to add to the string of arrests and seizures by the combined efforts of the BIR, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Customs and National Bureau of Investigation over the past two years.

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