Malaysian, three others charged for illicit cigarettes

Authorities intercepted a motorized boat carrying 155 boxes of cigarettes, totaling 7,750 reams worth P3.8 million in Ilog, Negros Occidental, Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Ilog Municipal Police Station)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD CITY – Four individuals, including a Malaysian, were charged yesterday with violating Republic Act 8424, the Tax Reform Act of 1997, for allegedly transporting several boxes of untaxed assorted cigarettes in Ilog, Negros Occidental, last Tuesday.

Police Major Joseph Partidas, town police chief, stated that a criminal complaint was filed against a 31-year-old construction worker and boat captain, two fishermen aged 18 and 19, and a 20-year-old Malaysian fisherman, all residents of Isabela City, Basilan.

Authorities intercepted a motorized boat carrying 155 boxes of cigarettes, totaling 7,750 reams with an estimated value of P3,875,000, according to a police report.

However, Partidas noted that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has yet to declare the official amount of the seized items, as it depends on the areas where it was supposed to be disposed of.

Partidas mentioned that the suspects traveled for two days from Zamboanga to transport the cigarettes to Negros.

According to the suspects, they were merely instructed to transport the items to the province and did not have direct links with the source or the clients who would pick up the items.

Partidas explained that those who would collect the cigarettes met the suspects at sea via fishing boats, not on the shoreline.

The suspects’ motorized boat was equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS). It was their second time transporting the items to the province, he said.

The seized items are currently in the custody of BIR-Bacolod.

Partidas added that the Malaysian suspect settled in Basilan after marrying there.

Lieutenant Junior Grade Carla De Guzman, head of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)-Southern Negros Occidental, reported that Coast Guard personnel, conducting a seaborne patrol, received information from a concerned citizen about a suspicious motorized boat in the area, prompting them to verify the report.

De Guzman said the PCG responded and sighted a boat docked near the shoreline, where they intercepted the suspects. The suspects acted as couriers of these items.

The four suspects are currently detained at the town police station.

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