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Fight versus smuggled cigarettes heats up in Davao areas

AUTHORITIES confiscated voluminous smuggled cigarettes in three separate trade enforcement operations in Davao del Sur and Davao de Oro as part of the government’s determined and more aggressive drive against illicit cigarette trades in Mindanao.

The latest operation took place at a checkpoint in Kilometer 80, Barangay Kiblagon, Sulop, Davao del Sur on June 11 by elements of Sulop MPS, Davao del Sur Provincial Intelligence Unit, Mobile Force Company.

The operatives, headed by P/Capt. Rey Sotomayor seized 55 master cases of New Berlin, a brand of smuggled cigarettes being distributed and sold in various areas in Mindanao, with an estimated value of P770,000.

Arrested during the operation was the driver of the Isuzu truck identified as Christian Lorenzo and his helper Ryan Jaljis Comiboy.

Sotomayor said the interception of the smuggled goods was made possible by the tip of an informant detailing the vehicle, contraband and the expected time travel.

Investigators said they are now tracing the owner of the untaxed cigarettes for possible filing of charges in violation of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

Meantime, the arrested suspects are now detained at the Sulop Municipal PNP and are facing charges for violating several provisions of CMTA.

In another checkpoint confiscation, this time in Poblacion, Kingking, Pantukan, Davao de Oro, police personnel flagged down two vehicles and uncovered 25 master cases of smuggled cigarettes on June 6.

Seized from Mitsubishi pick up and Suzuki multi-cab were 20 master cases of President FF worth P280,000 and 5 master cases of Wilson Cigarettes with a street value of P80,000. The drivers of the vehicles identified as Jay Madulara Saludo and Ryan Villanueva Madulara were arrested after failing to produce documents to prove that their goods are legally obtain for distribution.

Lt. Col. Jetnand Louie Carillo, the acting chief of police of Davao de Oro PNP said the suspects are facing charges in violation of several provisions of the RA 10863 otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

Carillo said they are already looking into the identity of the owner of the smuggled goods for possible filing of criminal charges as he underscored the importance of keeping the sustained trade enforcement operations such as setting up of more checkpoints and raids on stores selling illegal cigarettes alive.

Let this be a stern warning to syndicates and unscrupulous illicit cigarette traders, as well as sari-sari store owners selling smuggled cigarettes — authorities will observe and uphold a no-let-up policy in dealing with your illegal operations, Carillo said.

Also in Davao del Sur, authorities arrested in an entrapment operation a seller of smuggled cigarettes in Purok Pag-ibig, Barangay, New Clarin, Bansalan on June 2.

Elements of Bansalan PNP headed by P/Capt. Orlando Udalve, arrested the suspect identified as Aaron Paul Villapaz Pelite and a resident of Purok 8, Barangay Barayong, Magsaysay, Davao del Sur while peddling assorted brands of illicit cigarettes.

Confiscated from the suspect were 12 reams of Modern, 7 reams of Cannon Menthol and a pack each of Walton, MB Black and MB Red.

Udalve said their entrapment operation is part of their aggressive drive against all forms of illicit cigarettes within their area of jurisdiction.

The suspect is now detained at the Bansalan Municipal Police Station undergoing investigation pending the filing of various criminal complaints against him in relation to the Customs Modernization and Tariffs Act (CMTA) and violation of the latest order of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) setting the minimum price requirement of all cigarettes at P114.60 per pack.

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