Detained traders of fake cigarettes able to post bail

Mylen P. Manto (The Freeman) - March 10, 2015 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines- Three traders, who were earlier accused of selling fake brands of cigarettes, are now free after they each posted bail.

Carissa Mae Juanico of Barangay Alang-alang, Mandaue City, Glenn Suquib of Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City and Kevin Takiao of Barangay Gun-ob, Lapu-Lapu City posted P20,000 bail each on March 6 for their temporary liberty.

The three are facing two counts of violation of Republic Act 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines after they were reportedly found selling counterfeit Mighty Filter Kings and Mighty Menthol cigarettes.

The Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office has elevated the cases to court on March 6 after the accused chose not to file counter-affidavit and other controverting evidence to negate the allegations filed against them.

Prosecutor III Noel Cellona  recommended P10,000 bail each for a violation of Section 155 (remedies, infringement) of RA 8293 and violation of Section 168 (unfair competition, rights, regulation and remedies) in relation to Section 170 (penalties) of RA 8293 against the three accused.

On February 24, 2015, the National Bureau of Investigation-7 headed by head agent lawyer Rennan Augustus Oliva arrested Juanico, Suquib and Ta-kiao for allegedly mutually helping with one another in selling and distributing 11 cartons of fake cigarettes worth P122,500 to a poseur buyer without authority from the owners of Mighty Corp.

NBI-7 director lawyer Ricardo Diaz said after their office received complaint from Carlos Alejandro, field supervisor of Mighty Corp. based in Barangay Tipolo, Mandaue City, his agent conducted a test buy operation against Juanico.

He said after examination was conducted, it was found out that the products were counterfeited.

Thus, a buy-bust operation was conducted on February 24 in Carlock Street, Barangay San Nicolas, Cebu City, leading to the arrest of the accused.

“At around 8 p.m., Juanico, who arrived at the designated area onboard her motorcycle, was arrested after she received the marked money for her delivery of 11 cartons of Mighty products. Suquib and Takiao were arrested by the other NBI agents after they arrived onboard a taxi loaded with counterfeit Mighty,” the document reads.

Oliva said at around 11 a.m. on February 24, an NBI poseur buyer pretending to be an out-of-town buyer bought one carton of Mighty products from Juanico. Per certification issued by the company, the said products turned out to be counterfeit.

Oliva said the genuine product has a security feature and the taste differs.

Alejandro, in his affidavit, said they received complaint about counterfeit products sold in Taboan, Ermita, Consolacion, Liloan, Tuburan, Toledo City and Danao City last February.

On February 15, he conducted a test buy in public markets in Taboan and Ermita and found out that the illegal trade existed. A ream was sold at P290.

Diaz told the media their office conducted a continuous investigation to determine the origin of the counterfeit products.

“We have yet to get the origin. It is possible that the origin is Cebu, within the country or outside the country,” he said. He added because the seized evidence was counterfeit, the Philippine is deprived of taxes.

Oliva said there were 13 boxes of fake Mighty cigarettes in their office; 11 were seized during buy-bust operation while the two boxes were seized during test buy operation in public markets in Ermita and Taboan.

The counterfeit cigarette is sold at P280, according to Oliva, while the genuine is sold at P295.

If found guilty, the penalties to be imposed on the accused are two years to five years of imprisonment and a fine ranging from P50,900 to P200,000.

The arraignment of the three accused is scheduled on April 16.  (FREEMAN)


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