All-out-war vs illicit trade launched
Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) - February 15, 2016 - 9:00am

Industry groups team up with NBI 

MANILA, Philippines - Domestic industries are stepping up efforts to stop the scourge of smuggling and other forms of illicit trade in the country.

The Fight Illicit Trade Movement, comprising major players in various industries, has teamed up with the National Bureau of Investigation to curb unfair trade, protect consumers and legitimate players in the domestic market and safeguard government revenues.

Fight It brings together major players from industries with some of the most commonly smuggled goods or products such as rice, sugar, corn, palm oil, tobacco, steel cement, ceramic tiles, among others.

Jesus Arranza, chairman of Fight It, said illicit trade is a serious economic problem that robs the government of billions of pesos in revenues, harms consumers and undercuts legitimate local manufacturers. 

A study by Global Financial Integrity showed the Philippines lost at least $132.9 billion in illicit financial outflows from 1960 to 2011.

Fight It will help the NBI by providing actionable intelligence on the ground taking into consideration the need for confidentiality, data protection reliability and security in dealing with the investigation and prosecution of illegal traders, Arranza said.

Apart from this, Fight It will provide the NBI with logistical assistance such as warehouses where the bureau can store seized or confiscated items to preserve evidence until final conviction and court-ordered disposition or destruction.

Arranza said Fight It members would only safe keep confiscated items from a non-related industry. 

For his part, NBI director Virgilio Mendez said the help of the private sector would be vital in the bureau’s campaign for intelligence gathering, enforcement and all the way down to the prosecution. 

Both the NBI and Fight It will also work with intellectual property groups to go after the counterfeiters and those selling fake branded products.

Upon the request of the NBI, Fight It will organize training sessions for the bureau’s personnel to help them spot or identify fake products from cigarettes, shampoos to cellphones and tables.

“The growing incidence of illicit trade and its damaging effects on industries and the consumers, not to mention its impact on government revenue owing to foregone customs duties and excise taxes, are concerns that prompted us to take a more encompassing campaign to involve local industries and the public,” Arranza said. 

He added illicit trade also fuels the criminal elements in our community and all the social ills that go along with it, thus the need to work closely with the NBI.

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