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Fake cigarettes seized in Escalante

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Army soldiers assist BIR personnel in the confiscation of fake cigarettes at the public market of Escalante City in Negros Occidental.* PA photo

In a major crackdown on the illegal cigarette trade, authorities seized 12,000 packs of counterfeit cigarettes during recent raids in Escalante City, Negros Occidental.

The operation at the public market of Escalante City on June 20 was led by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), assisted by the local police and troopers of the 79th Infantry Battalion.

Among the seized cigarette brands was MLB.

Also present during the raids was Atty. Bryl Sobrejuanite, Chief, Legal Division BIR Regional Office Bacolod City.

In previous months, policemen also seized about P100,000 worth of suspected smuggled cigarettes at a checkpoint in Barangay 1 Poblacion, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental.

Under Section 263 of the National Internal Revenue Code, persons or companies caught in possession of cigarette products that did not pay excise taxes face an imprisonment of 10 years to 12 years.

A person caught with smuggled or counterfeit cigarettes will be fined 10 times the value of the payable excise taxes or not less than P1 million and a minimum jail time of five years. A company, such as a manufacturer or importer, faces a minimum cash penalty of P50 million and jail time of at least eight years.*

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