POLICE authorities escalated further their checkpoint operations in Mindanao against smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes in the region with the latest confiscations estimated to be over P26 million worth.
The various enforcements came in the heels of President Marcos’ uncompromising call on government law enforcers and revenue agencies to run after smugglers and put them behind bars in his State of the Nation Address in July.
Elements of PNP Region 12 confiscated P5.6 million worth of smuggled cigarettes at a checkpoint in Barangay New Cuyapo, Tantangan town, South Cotabato at around 10 pm on Tuesday, August 29.
Authorities acted on an intelligence information from a concerned citizen disclosing details of a wing van loading with smuggled cigarettes and was expected to pass through the border checkpoint in Barangay New Cuyapo.
Seized from the van were 299 boxes of Cannon, a brand of untaxed smuggled cigarettes and arrested the driver Norhamen Makangkong and his helper Amer Ginda Gogo but the owner of the goods identified as Benzar Abdullah alias Douglas was reportedly at large.
The suspects who are now detained at the Tantangan Municipal Police Station and facing charges for violating certain provisions of Republic Act 10863 otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), specifically in possession of smuggled goods and non-payment of taxes.
In Region 11, syndicates seemed to shift tactics to elude detection by authorities, this time by loading smuggled cigarettes in a passenger bus instead of carrying the illegal items via private vehicles to make it appear less suspicious.
With the tip off from an informant, the Task Force Davao in coordination with the Davao City PNP and Bureau of Customs 11 manning a checkpoint at AFP-PNP entry point in Sirawan, Toril District, Davao City on Saturday, August 26 confiscated from a public utility bus several boxes of smuggled cigarettes.
Authorities arrested Jaime Manalao, a resident of Digos City, in possession of smuggled brands of cigarettes, among them Aris, Greenhill, Walton, President and Wilton.
In General Santos City, three cargo trucks were intercepted by elements of the Joint Task Force GenSan 340 master cases of smuggled cigarettes amounting to P19.4 million on August 24 at a checkpoint in Barangay Bawing.
The 340 master cases of Fort, a brand of illicit cigarette were from Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat when intercepted by authorities at around 2:15 am.
In Davao de Oro, elements of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) seized over P1 million worth of smuggled cigarettes in San Antonio Village, Barangay Maparat, Compostela on August 18.
A total of 43 master cases of assorted brands of smuggled cigarettes arrested Minso Casan Pasar and Jalaludin Manalocon Pansar in the act of distributing and selling smuggled cigarttes to sari-sari stores in Barangay Maparat.
Seized from the suspects were P50,000 cash, 13 master cases of Royal Light, 22 cases of San Martin Menthol and 8 cases of San Martin Light amounting to over P1 million.
The suspects were brought to CIDG Davao de Oro PFU and will be facing charges in violation of Republic Act 10643 or the illegal selling of cigarettes without a standard graphic health warning while the seized items were brought to Bureau of Customs XI for examination and custody.
Earlier, members of the Philippine Navy intercepted 2,798 master cases of Oakley Original Cigarette on board the M/B Indah Nadz fishing vessel off the waters of Baturapac Island, Tandubas, Tawi-Tawi.
The amount of the total Philipine Navy haul was placed at P160 million, the biggest confiscation so far that took place in the province.