Thousand of counterfeit goods were destroyed this morning as the Bureau of Customs conducted its second biggest condemnation of confiscated smuggled products this year.
Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez said the condemned articles worth at least P100 million included imitations of an array of well-known brands such as Louis Vuitton bags, Lacoste, Nike, Adidas shoes and watches.
“The China-made knock-offs,” added Alvarez, “were seized from warehouses being used by smugglers as storage areas for the counterfeit goods they supply to retail outlets in 168 Mall in Divisoria and other bargain centers in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
It will be recalled that last April 1, the BOC shred to pieces some P300 million worth of fake energizer batteries, wearing apparels and fashion accessories.
Alvarez clarified that the P300 million bogus products destroyed last April and those that were condemned today were part of seizures made last year.
De Guzman explained that the wide time gap between the seizure and actual condemnation of smuggled imitation products could be attributed to a long process that included issuance of subpoenas to the concerned consignees and brokers, the need to secure the involvement of brand owners and the conduct of hearings in accordance with existing regulations.
Records from the Intellectual Property Rights Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) credited the BOC with confiscating P1.3 billion worth of fake products from January to August this year.
Last month alone, the Intellectual Property Rights Division (IPRD) of the Bureau of Customs headed by lawyer Zsae Carrie de Guzman conducted two successful raids in the Binondo area, hauling in almost perfect imitations of high-end wearing apparels and accessories with an aggregate value of at least P1 billion. The other P300 million worth were seized by the IPRD within customs zones, particularly at the Port of Manila and the Manila International Container Port.
Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service Director Filomeno Vicencio Jr. who supervises the IPRD confirmed that from January to August this year, the newly-created division had confiscated more than P1.3 billion worth of counterfeit products.
De Guzman said “the creation of the IPRD whose specific mandate is to run after intellectual property rights violators will long be remembered as one of the lasting legacies of Commissioner Alvarez.”
The condemnation was witnessed by representatives from the Intellectual Property Rights Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), US Department of Homeland Security and legitimate manufacturers of branded products.
Alvarez said more than P1.3 billion worth of confiscated counterfeit products now in customs warehouses would also be consigned to the dustbin of uselessness in the coming months.
“Nobody should profit from making a mockery of intellectual property rights,” he added.
The customs chief said the BOC’s Run-After-The-Smugglers (RATS) was in the process of building up cases against importers and brokers involved in counterfeit smuggling as well as customs employees in cahoots with them.
He promised that there would be no letup in the agency’s campaign to make smuggling unprofitable and corruption a shameful crime.