THE Bureau of Customs on Friday seized P3.2 billion worth of Mighty cigarettes allegedly bearing fake tax stamps in a raid in two warehouses in Matimbubong village, Bulacan.
At least 160,000 master cases of Mighty cigarettes were found in the warehouses, said Capt. Joenel Pogoy who conducted the raid in coordination with the Bureau of Internal Revenue, local police and village officials.
He said the first warehouse contained 145,000 master cases of cigarettes with an estimated value of P2.9 billion. The raiding team found 15,000 master cases worth around P300 million inside the second facility.
“Using the BIR stamp verifier, the team confirmed that the cigarettes had been marked with fake tax stamps,” Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said.
He made his statement even Mighty Corp. slammed Customs for raiding a warehouse in Bulacan, saying the agency did not have the authority to do so.
Mighty’s legal counsel Sigfrid Fortun said Customs had no authority to inspect excise stamp taxes “as it is a function exclusively vested in the BIR [Bureau of Internal Revenue].”
“As no fake imported goods or smuggled cigarettes were found inside the warehouse, any action the BoC may take on them will be legally infirm,” Fortun said.
But the Manila City Regional Trial Court dismissed the petition for preliminary injunction filed by Mighty Corp. to stop Customs from conducting raids in its warehouse in Pampanga.
Presiding Judge Noli Diaz of the Manila RTC Branch 39 issued a resolution dated March 23, 2017, that Mighty Corp.’s petition for the writ of preliminary injunction should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday he was open to a “reasonable” compromise between the government and tax evaders to avoid long legal battles and add more funds for social services.
“I do not want to humiliate people. It can be done. I will allow compromises,” Duterte said in a meeting of Filipino-Chinese businessmen in Pasay City.
Former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada agreed with Duterte’s move to offer a P15- billion out-of-court settlement with Mighty Corp. to settle its case.
He said he was also amenable to doing the same thing in Manila to secure funds from the corporations that had been cheating the government.
“Why not? Put it to good use. People will benefit from it,” Estrada said.
Internal Revenue earlier filed charges against Mighty Corp. for allegedly avoiding paying P9.564 billion in excise taxes by using fake tax stamps.
Faeldon said the bureau will intensify its campaign against smuggling and all other forms of illicit trade.
“We will not stop in our efforts to weed out those engaged in pernicious activities that undermine and derail the government’s reform agenda,” Faeldon said.
“We are ready to use all available options in the investigation of erring companies.” With PNA