TACLOBAN CITY- A leading cigarette manufacturer in the country has found fake cigarettes bearing their company brands to have been sold in this city.
A team from the Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Inc. (PMFTC Inc.) reported the presence of counterfeits in a number of retail stores in this city after surprise visits by the PMFTC team.
The stores were selling fake cigarettes carrying the brands of Marlboro, Fortune and Jackpot.
PMFTC Inc. is the manufacturer of Marlboro, Fortune and Jackpot and other cigarettes brands.
Philip Morris Philippines had been in the country since 1955 when it entered into a licensing agreement with La Suerte Cigar and Cigarette factory to manufacture and sell Marlboro.
Eventually, the company handled all sales and marketing aspects related to the Marlboro and Philip Morris brands in 1995.
In 2010, Philip Morris Philippines and Fortune Tobacco Corporation entered into an agreement to combine their business operations in a new company, PMFTC Inc.
The company has two manufacturing plants – in Tanauan, Batangas and Marikina.
PMFTC has different facilities in the country and 42 sales offices. It has a stemmery in Ilocos, an international warehouse hub in Subic Bay Freeport Zone and a fresh leaf buying and curing facility in Claveria, Misamis Oriental.
It has almost 5,000 direct contracted farmers planting tobacco in Northern Luzon, Mindoro and Misamis Oriental and employs about 5,000 personnel.
The members of the PMFTC team conducted surprise purchases of the cigarettes in some stores in this city to find out if the cigarettes carrying the brand names manufactured by their company are genuine.
“To our surprise, fake cigarettes carrying the brands of Marlboro, Fortune and Jackpot are sold in some stores in this city,” they said.
The PMFTC source informed reporters that the stores in this city found to be selling fake Marlboro, Fortune and Jackpot brand cigarettes were located in front of the Tacloban Public Market.
The source said the concerned stores were served warning letters by PMFTC to cease and desist from selling of those fake cigarettes with brand names of Marlboro, Fortune, and Jackpot indicating unlawful distribution and sale of counterfeit cigarette brands.
It was learned that other PMFTC teams are also checking other stores or outlets not only in this city but also in other areas in Eastern Visayas and all other provinces in the country including Metro Manila for fake cigarettes carrying their company brands.
PMFTC has alerted local authorities to the growing problem of counterfeit cigarettes which are of very poor quality and deny the government Sin Tax revenues.
It was also learned that manufacturing and selling of counterfeit of fake products, like the fake cigarettes carrying the brands of Marlboro, Fortune, and Jackpot sold in this city are punishable by law.
Such acts are in violations of Republic Act 8293, otherwise known as the “Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines”, a criminal penalty of imprisonment from 2 to 5 years and a fine ranging from P50,000 to P200,000 may be imposed upon anyone caught committing the aforesaid unlawful act, in addition to any civil and administrative sanctions imposed by law for the same offense.
Furthermore, the traders are warned because fake PMFTC products bear fake BIR excise tax stamps, sellers also commit tax offenses punishable under the National Internal Revenue Code.
The Leyte Samar Daily Express learned that PMFTC had been working closely with law enforcement in pursuing traders and store owners who are involved with the illegal sale of fake items.