21 October 2017:
MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has confiscated 480 mastercases of cigarettes without tax stamps during a raid in Nueva Ecija.
In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, the BIR said it has uncovered illicit cigarettes branded as “Two Moon,” “RGD,” “Black Cat,” and “Twin Star” from a store and its warehouse in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija during a joint raid with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) last Oct. 19.
According to the BIR, the raid was conducted following reports the said establishments had been selling cigarettes not affixed with tax stamps.
The agency said it has ordered the closure of the premises after the discovery of the illicit tobacco products.
“The warehouse raid resulted in the closure of the premises under Section 172 of the Tax Code because there were initially 480 mastercases of various cigarette products without tax stamps.”
Under Section 172 of the Tax Code, the BIR may detain products when it has good reason to believe that the proper excise taxes were not paid.
The BIR said it is still estimating the total value of the seized products and gathering additional details.
Earlier, Dominguez said government authorities have been looking into the Two Moon brand to determine where the product came from.
“It says they are made in Thailand but we really don’t know, it might be in Ilocos Sur. I don’t know where it came from but we are still tracing,” Dominguez said.
The finance chief had warned before that the exit of low-end cigarette manufacturers like Mighty Corp. from the business may lead to higher prices of cigarettes in the market, and eventually give rise to more smuggled tobacco products into the country.
Meanwhile, Internal Revenue commissioner Caesar Dulay issued Revenue Regulation 6-2017 ordering the affixture of newly designed internal revenue stamps to cigarette products by 2018.
“No later than Jan. 1, 2018, all locally manufactured packs of cigarettes to be removed from place of production shall be affixed with the new internal revenue stamps prescribed by these regulations,” the issuance read.
“With respect to imported cigarettes, no importation and subsequent release of cigarette from customshouse shall be allowed unless the new internal revenue stamps shall have been affixed thereto effective June 1, 2018,” it added.
According to the BIR, all cigarettes sold in the market, whether locally manufactured or imported, should be affixed with the new tax stamps by Sept. 1, 2018.