By Jessica M. Bacud
SANTIAGO CITY – Following a writ of possession, Mayor Alyssa “Sheena” Tan led the destruction of counterfeit cigarettes seized in this city on Friday.
A total of 137 Mastercase Fortune International Blue cigarette cases with a market value of P7.3 million and an Estimated Tax Loss of P4.42 million were spread out at an outdoor yard of the Integrated Terminal Complex (ITC) in Barangay Malvar, this city.
They were crushed with the use of a roller and a backhoe, then drenched with water by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and placed in a pit.
In an interview, Mayor Tan said she would strengthen the city’s efforts to curb this alarming activity that is not at all advantageous to the populace of Santiago amid the pandemic phenomenon.
“We are condemning this counterfeit production in the locality and definitely we will look into this matter to implement intense and aggressive restrictions.”
“Binabalaan ko po ang mga importers, distributors and manufacturers ng peke o counterfeit items dito sa lungsod ng Santiago na mas paiigtingin po natin ang pagpapatupad ng batas,” she said.
“Wala po tayong sasantuhin. The health and safety of Santiaguenos as well as protecting legitimate businesses faithfully complying with laws and regulations are my utmost priority,” the mayor stressed.
Meanwhile, Christ Vincent Pagurayan, a representative of Philip Morris said, that the Fortune International Blue cigarettes seized as inspected earlier were not produced by the company and found counterfeit.
Judge Anastacio Anghad of the Regional Trial Court said the planned destruction of the contraband items was extended for a month instead of the two-week period based on the court order to await any claimant of the seizure.
Police Major Ray Raqual of Santiago City Police Station 1 accommodated the request for the safekeeping of the counterfeit cigarettes as there is no space in the court.
“We will continue to implement the law and work hand in hand with the city government,” Raqual said.
The counterfeit cigarettes were seized at an abandoned house inside a local subdivision during the implementation of writ of possession by Branch 36 RTC Sheriff Garcia together with the representative of BDO Unibank, Tirso Apostol, dated July 13, 2022.
City Administrator Paul Tan along with Santiago Police Office City Director P/Col. Reynante Panay, Bureau of Fire personnel, Department of Trade and Industry representatives, and other officials witnessed the destruction.
The destruction and disposal of the contraband fulfilled a court order and was a directive from the judiciary.
“We will work with the PNP to stop this kind of illegal import into the city and with the judiciary as well,” the mayor disclosed.