CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 10 (Northern Mindanao) is set to file charges against individuals believed to be behind the proliferation of illegally-made cigarettes in the region. NBI-10 Director Patricio Bernales said Friday individuals suspected of manufacturing counterfeit tobacco products will be charged with violation of Republic Act 8293, or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, 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 NBI-10 and the Bureau of Internal Revenue personnel in a warehouse here on Thursday.
Representatives of Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. and Japan Tobacco Industry determined that the products were counterfeit by using a sophisticated detector. NBI-10 special investigator Nolan Gadia valued the seized cigarettes at PHP60 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 arrived. Aside from Shi, other individuals will be included in the list of respondents, Bernales said, without divulging the names of the other respondents.
He said Shi has been temporarily released but warned that the latter “can be arrested anytime,” along with a Filipino associate. Bernales said they are determining if Shi and his cohorts are members of a larger group allegedly involved in the manufacture of counterfeit goods. He added that the NBI is also trying to determine the possible connection of Shi and his companions to a group responsible for the manufacture of cigarettes that law enforcers raided in Barangay Cugman here and in Villanueva town, Misamis Oriental last year. (PNA)