By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Fake tax stamps worth around P544 million and suspected fake cigarettes were confiscated in a raid conducted by members of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Region 12 and Revenue District Office 77 Bacolod City and agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in the city’s Barangay Tangub yesterday afternoon.
BIR Regional Director Antonio Jonathan Jaminola said they conducted the raid after they received a tip from one of their confidential informants that a warehouse in the said barangay was producing fake cigarettes.
Initially BIR and NBI agents managed to seize several boxes containing fake documentary stamps and raw materials only.
An NBI agent, who has requested not to be identified, pointed out the stamps nearly look the same as the original BIR tax stamp, however, the fake ones all use the same serial numbers.
The NBI agent also compared the fake and original BIR stamps, wherein the original one has a darker green color compared to the fake one which is light green.
NBI and BIR agents then opened a parked truck outside the warehouse and one of the agents discovered that it contained boxes of suspected fake cigarettes, more fake documentary stamps, and raw materials.
Jaminola said when conducting the raid, the warehouse was padlocked and they had to ask permission from Barangay Tangub officials to break into the warehouse.
Both the BIR and NBI officials believe that there are people working inside the warehouse, but went out since the raid was conducted during lunch hours and thus the warehouse workers managed to escape.
“We still don’t have the identity as to who was the individual behind these fake tax stamps,” Jaminola explained.
Aside from the truck outside the warehouse, there are also three more trucks inside the warehouse.
Jaminola also believes that the workers have just started the production of the fake cigarettes as most of the seized items are raw materials.
The BIR official also said as long as someone will inform them of similar illegal activities, they will continue their raids, pointing out the government is losing money every time the fake items reach the open market.
“To all taxpayers, please help our government by paying the right tax as it is really needed especially during this COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
Most of the seized items will eventually be destroyed by the BIR while keeping some as evidence which will be presented to the court when they arrest the suspects behind the illegal activity.
Jaminola said the suspects may face charges for violating Section 265 of the National Internal Revenue Code, and tax evasion./DGB, WDJ