March 9, 2017 – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) will continue to intensify its operations against importers and manufacturers of smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes despite a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by a Manila court in favor of a cigarette manufacturing company.
“Yes, we will abide by the TRO but we are not discounting the remedies available to us in order to counter the said TRO,” Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said on Thursday.
On March 6, 2017, Judge Tita Bughao Alisuag of Branch 1 of the Manila Regional Trial Court issued a TRO preventing the BOC from conducting raids or inspections at the warehouses of Mighty Corporation from March 3 to 23, 2017.
Prior to the issuance of the TRO, the BOC and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) conducted a series of raids which resulted in the seizure of thousands of cases of cigarettes with fake tax stamps amounting to more than a billion pesos.
The operations were carried out based on Mission Orders and Letters of Authority from the Commissioner. BIR operatives were able to confirm that the seized tax stamps were indeed fake after subjecting them to authenticity tests.
According to Faeldon said, Customs authorities would remain on guard at the warehouses of Mighty Corp. to make sure that the seized cigarettes would not be tampered with or swapped with legitimate products.
He said he remained optimistic that the bureau would be able to build a strong case against Mighty Corp.
“We assure the public and all legitimate manufacturers and importers of cigarettes and any other products that the BOC will run after illicit traders and smugglers without let-up,” the Commissioner said.
The BOC has exclusive jurisdiction over seizure and forfeiture cases based on Section 202 of Republic Act No. 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act” (CMTA).
Section 301 of the CMTA provides that “all goods, including means of transport, entering or leaving customs territory, regardless of whether they are liable to duties and taxes, shall be subject to customs control” to ensure compliance with the BOC’s border security mandate under customs laws, rules, and procedures.#