MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Customs said the Philippines has not been included in the list of countries with rampant intellectual property rights violations for two consecutive years.
Bureau of Customs-Intellectual Property Rights Division (BOC-IPRD) chief Czae de Guzman recently announced that for 2015 and 2016, the Philippines has managed to keep off the Special 301 Report of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).
De Guzman said “if a country is in the list, it means there is a proliferation of counterfeit” products in that particular country.
During their recent meeting with an envoy from the US Embassy, they were informed the Philippines was again not mentioned in the Special 301 Report and the BOC was recognized for being number one in terms of enforcement against IPR violations, followed by the National Bureau of Investigation.
The USTR comes out with a Special 301 Report citing the status of intellectual property rights (IPR) worldwide and its enforcement. The Philippines was first listed in 1989 and has reportedly been mentioned in the watch list report since 1994, and was only removed in 2014 as a result of the government’s sustained actions to improve the protection of IPR.
Meanwhile, the BOC-Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) director Neil Anthony Estrella and De Guzman recently led the raid in two building warehouses, namely YS Building and One Logistics Center, both located in Pasay City, and confiscated several sacks and plastics of alleged imitations of several brands of apparel.
The seized counterfeit clothing was valued at around P200 million. These were found inside three floors of each of the two buildings.
The BOC-CIIS is still determining if one of the alleged owners of the confiscated goods is a certain James Chua. The owners of the goods would be given 15 days to produce import permits and prove that they are registered importers of the bureau.
“If they fail to produce the permit we would continue with the seizure and the goods would be destroyed,” Estrella said.
“We are not here to destroy their businesses. We went here to implement the law and to inform them that what they are doing is against the law. They should pay the correct duties and taxes and secondly, these are violation of the IPR,”he said.
The BOC conducted the raid after it received intelligence information there were fake items being stored in the two buildings.
De Guzman said IPR violations have adverse effects on the economy since they are not paying the correct taxes. The fake goods are also being sold in flea markets or tiangge and the sellers do not issue receipts which is against the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s policy. This would also discourage foreign companies from putting up businesses in the country for fear of leaks in their product secrets.