The Bureau of Customs arrested 16 Chinese nationals at a fake cigarette factory in Nueva Ecija.
Department of Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said that the BOC’s enforcement and security service (ESS) seized a warehouse with cigarette-making facilities in Gapan City after serving a letter of authority last Saturday.
Dominguez said that 16 Chinese nationals were arrested at the factory according to the report of Customs Commissioner Isidro S. Lapeña,
Lapeña said in his report to Dominguez, “We have coordinated with the Bureau of Immigration regarding the arrested personalities.”
The BOC said that the warehouse located along Valmonte Street at Barangay Pambuan contained raw materials used in making cigarettes, machines, as well as fake cigarettes.
Dominguez told Lapeña and BIR Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay “to trace the manufacturer of the machines and travel to the probable country or countries of origin to seek the cooperation of customs authorities there in finding the people behind the illegal entry of the cigarette-making units via Philippine ports.”
Dominguez admonished Lapeña and Dulay by saying, “Look for the manufacturers, then file complaints before the concerned embassies there. Fake cigarettes were proliferating as a result of the higher excise taxes slapped on the “sin” product, which also jacked up retail prices.”
The price of the cigarettes went up from P30 a pack last year to P32.50 per pack due to excise tax imposed. Then the unitary cigarette excise tax further rose to P35 per pack last July under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act.
The TRAIN Law or Republic Act No. 10963 which was signed by President Duterte last December 2017 has jacked up or imposed new excise taxes on cigarettes, sugary drinks, oil products and vehicles, among other goods, to compensate for the restructured personal income tax regime that raised the tax exemption cap.
However, many complaints about the TRAIN law as this has pushed the price up specially that the petroleum products are included in the excise tax, thus pushing up the price of anything and everything that uses petroleum even the transportation of goods.
Just last week, Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines Inc.’s decided to sell its controlling stake in its Philippine operation of 51%. The Coca-Cola Co.
Since the implementation of TRAIN law, Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines has been struggling since last year after the government regulated imports of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a sweetener used by the food industry as an alternative to cane sugar.
The government levied a P12 tax on HFCS-sweetened drinks at the start of the year, double that of beverages using sugar. And since the new tax regime was put in place, Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines has laid off an undisclosed number of workers and has reduced volumes of of some products.
Read related story: FEMSA exits Philippines, sold 51% stake to Coca-Cola Co.
Meanwhile, netizens blame the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation for being so laxed with the Chinese tourists.
The Chinese tourist arrivals to the Philippines amazingly surge during the first two months of 2018, jumping 56 percent in January and February, with an impressive 56.44 percent growth rate,” according to March report of the Department of Tourism (DOT).
THEPHILBIZNEWS tried to get the comment of the BID Commissioner’s Office, but has not given any replied yet as of this writing.