In view of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by Judge Tita Bughao Alisuag of Branch 1 of the Regional Trial Court, Manila, in favour of Mighty Corporation, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) remains firm in their position to intensify operations against importers and manufacturers of smuggled and/or fake cigarettes.
Following Judge Alisuag’s issuance of TRO, BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said, “Yes, we will abide by the TRO, but we are not discounting the legal remedies available for us to counter the said TRO.”
Section 202 (j) of Republic Act 10863 otherwise known as Customs Modernization and Tariff Act states among the functions of the Bureau, the exercise of exclusive original jurisdiction over forfeiture cases under this Act. Further, Section 301 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 this Act.”
Mighty Corporation sought relief from the court following the series of raids the BOC and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) conducted 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 upon issuance of Mission Orders and Letter of Authority from BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon. BIR operatives present during the raid confirmed that the tax stamps are fake after they subjected the products to a test using their scanner.
Faeldon said Customs authorities will remain on guard at the warehouses to ensure that the seized cigarettes will not be tampered or swapped with legitimate products.
He remains optimistic that after gathering all evidence against the seizures, they will be able to build a strong case against Mighty Corporation. He adds, “We are assuring the public and all legitimate manufacturers and importers, of cigarettes or any other products, that the BOC will run after illicit traders and smugglers.”
The TRO, effective for twenty (20) days counted from the filing of the case on March 3, 2017 or until March 23, 2017, also covers BIR related operations.###