Philippine National Police operatives, in hot pursuit of untaxed and other prohibited products, have arrested once again two fake cigarette traders in Barangay Victoria, San Mateo, Isabela province.
Analiza Bartolome, 38, and Dominador Pascua, 43, both married and residents of Angadanan, Isabela, were nabbed while in the act of selling fake Mighty and Marvels brand cigarettes.
Police authorities acted on the complaint of a Mighty employee who chanced upon the two on board a tricycle without a license plate doing rounds in Purok 3, Barangay Victoria, while in possession of boxes of the contraband items.
The 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, which carries a penalty of two to five years imprisonment and a fine ranging from P50,000 to P200,000.
Industry observers attribute the rampancy of fake cigarettes to the consistently 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 margins, while essentially undercutting the government in due taxes.
Bureau of Internal Revenue officials have 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, a combined effort of the BIR, PNP, Bureau of Customs and National Bureau of Investigation yielded numerous suspects, including two minors, connected to the smuggling, distribution and sale of large quantities of fake cigarette brands.