A raid conducted by the Philippine Bureau of Customs on October 15, 2015 resulted in the confiscation of more than 31,000 packs of counterfeit Philip Morris cigarettes. The Customs Bureau’s website confirmed this successful campaign which it initiated after receiving information that counterfeit Philip Morris cigarettes were smuggled into the country.

Acting on the basis of a Letter of Authority signed by the Customs Commissioner, the Bureau’s Enforcement Group coordinated with the local police and the Barangay Chairman in the area where the counterfeit cigarettes were stored. The target of this raid was a four-storey building at the busy downtown area of Sta. Cruz, Manila, which was registered under the name of Paloma General Merchandise.

The seized items consisted of an assortment of different brands of cigarettes — Morris, Fortune Menthol, Fortune Lights, Fortune Blue, Jackpot Menthol, Jackpot Red, Hope, More, Fortune Red, Marlboro Black Menthol and Mighty Menthol 100s were found in storage and being offered for sale to the public.

Immediately after the operation, the Bureau’s Enforcement Group recommended the issuance of a Warrant of Seizure and Detention on the basis that these counterfeit cigarettes were imported in violation of Section 2530, Property Subject to Forfeiture Under Tariff and Customs Laws, of the Tariff and Customs Code, in relation to the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.  The District Collector of the Port of Manila issued the warrant on October 16, 2015.

The Customs Bureau is currently reassessing the value of the seized cigarettes earlier estimated at P3 million.  The Customs officers indicated that the confiscated items will be condemned by burning them in the presence of Philip Morris representatives, members of the media and other law enforcement agencies.

This raid comes on the heels of a report that the Intellectual Property Office has already seized P1.4 billion worth of counterfeit goods as of September 2015.  Anti-counterfeiting efforts have been at the forefront of intellectual property issues in the Philippines as evidenced by the recently concluded Anti-Counterfeiting and Piracy Summit last week.