CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation-10 (NBI-10) said Friday it is set to file charges against individuals who they believed are behind the proliferation of illegally made and illegally sold cigarettes in Northern Mindanao.
NBI-10 regional director Patricio Bernales said those who are suspected of manufacturing the counterfeit tobacco products will be charged with violation of Republic Act 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.
He said the suspects will be facing intellectual properties rights case for copying legitimate products.
“It was determined that these products were counterfeit based on verification made by company representatives,” Bernales said, referring to the boxes of cigarettes bearing brands commonly found in the market that were seized by a joint team of NBI-10 and the regional office of the Bureau of Internal Revenue in a warehouse in Barangay Kauswagan, this city, on Thursday, March 7.
Those who were able to determine that the confiscated cigarette brands using an electronic device were faked were representatives from the Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) and Japan Tobacco Industry.
NBI-10 special investigator Nolan Gadia, in a previous interview following the confiscation, placed the worth of the seized cigarettes at about P0 million.
One of the possible respondents was identified by the NBI as Shi Zhulian, a Chinese national based on his passport, who was at the warehouse when authorities came.
Aside from Shi, there were other individuals, both Chinese and Filipinos, who will be included in the list of respondents, although Bernales has yet to divulge the names of the other persons.
Bernales said they released Shi from the NBI-10 custody as he was not subjected yet to an inquest proceeding at the City Prosecutor’s Office.
“But he (Shi) can be arrested anytime,” he said, adding that the Chinese national is now under the custody Filipino associate of Shi while awaiting the filing of the legal action.
Bernales said they are now determining if Shi and his cohorts are members of larger group allegedly involved in the manufacturing of counterfeit goods.
He added the NBI is also trying to connect Shi and his companions with a group responsible for the manufacture of cigarettes that law enforcers raided in Barangay Cugman, this city, and in Villanueva last year.
Both the NBI and BIR are planning to destroy the confiscated items in the immediate future. (davaotoday.com)