P77M in cigarettes, P45M in counterfeit toys seized

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Thursday filed criminal cases against two importers for the alleged misdeclaration and illegal importation of counterfeit and prohibited goods worth almost P77 million.

This developed as government agents raided a storage facility in Bulacan and seized P45 million worth of counterfeit toys and other smuggled items from China.

In a statement, the Bureau’s Action Team Against Smugglers (BATAS) filed the cases against private companies YJC International Corporation and MBS Cargo Movers Co. before the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The case against YJC International Corporation was for the illegal importation and misdeclaration of 1,599 cartons (79,950 reams) of counterfeit cigarettes with a total value of P76.8 million.

The shipment, which was busted on January 3 at the Manila International Container Port (MICP), was declared as plastic frames and sheets.

MBS Cargo Movers was also charged for alleged illegal importation and misdeclaration of 344 boxes of “ukay-ukay” (used clothes) that were intercepted on August 10, 2020 at the MICP. The consignee declared its shipment as used personal effects.

Meanwhile, the raid, conducted by the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, came after the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) sought the help of the bureau in stopping the proliferation of counterfeit and pirated goods.

Armed with the Letter of Authority signed by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, the CIIS team assigned at the Manila International Container Port executed the operation with the help of the National Bureau of Investigation.

Also seized during the raid at the warehouse in Guiguinto town were helmets, steel, resins, and machinery, among others.

“Further investigation is underway for the possible filing of cases for violation of Section 1400 of Republic Act 10863 (Customs Modernization and Tariff Act) as well as pertinent Intellectual Property Laws,” said Guerrero.

IPOPHL representatives led by Director General Rowel Barba and makers of signature products earlier met Customs officials and discussed possible measures to intensify border protection against rampant intellectual property rights violations.

The agency revealed that complaints on counterfeiting and piracy filed with the agency in 2020 surged to 121 cases as the coronavirus pandemic presented lucrative opportunities for unscrupulous traders.

Records also showed that most of the complaints concerned counterfeiting, while the remaining 54 were on the illegal sharing and selling of copyrighted works.

These consignees and their brokers were charged with various violations of Republic Act 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act and Republic Act 4653 which prohibits the importation of used clothes, and other related laws.

The BOC will also file administrative cases before the Professional Regulation Commission against the brokers of the two consignees.

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