Bogus cigarette salesmen nabbed


Men posing as legitimate cigarette salespersons are facing charges in the towns of Dagupan, Pangasinan and Tiaong, Quezon after police discovered that the pairs were selling fake cigarettes to store owners.


The salesmen-tandem in the Dagupan case were identified as Jessie Salas, resident of Tarlac City and Norwin Villar, resident of Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija.


Three separate criminal charges have been filed by the Dagupan City Prosecutor’s office for alleged violations of Republic Act (RA) 8293 or Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines and the Revised Penal Code.


 The two men were accused of swindling or estafa in violation of Article 315 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code, as well as trademark infringement and unfair competition, in violation of Sections 155 and 168, respectively, of the Intellectual Property Code.
In the information dated April 19 by Assistant City Prosecutor Ferdinand Parayno and approved by City Prosecutor Ma. Victoria Datuin-Cabrera, Salas and Villar were charged in connection with conspiring to sell fake cigarettes to store owner Marivick Tolentino.


 According to the police, Tolentino complained that she had been sold a fake ream of cigarettes after noticing anomalies with the packaging of the products.


Meanwhile, police had arrested two brothers pretending to be cigarette salesmen with 30 reams of counterfeit cigarettes during a buy-bust operation in Barangay Quipot, Tiaong, Quezon.


The suspects were identified as Jayson Muico Borja and Cendric Muico Borja, both residents of San Pablo, Laguna.


Police had devised an entrapment operation after store owner Dianne Fajardo complained that the brothers sold her six reams of fake cigarettes.

“Etong mga nagbebenta ng illicit (cigarettes) nakakasakit lang din saming mga store owners. Kaya dapat maiging tinitignan lagi yung mga anomalya sa supply nila at wag matakot sabihin sa mga awtoridad pag may kahina-hinalang aktibidades,” (These illlcit cigarettes sellers only hurt small store owners.They should always inspect their supply and should not hesitate to report any suspicious activity to authorities) said Tolentino.


The Borja brothers face trademark infringement charges and are set to be tried at a Lucena RTC court in June.
 
Under RA 8293, unfair competition occurs when goods are attempted to be passed off to the public as the legitimate goods of another manufacturer through confusing similarities in appearance.


During the 6th Private Sector Advisory Council – Agriculture Sector Group (PSAC-ASG) meeting in Malacanang on May 8, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. urged the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to intensify enforcements efforts against illicit tobacco and vape products.


According to a new report from the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) and the EU-ASEAN Business Council, the Philippines loses an estimated P100 billion or USD1.9 billion in taxes annually due to illicit cigarette smuggling.

 

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