MANILA – At least P1 billion in smuggled and fake items were seized in Barangay Tambo, Parañaque City on Tuesday morning, in what could be the one of the biggest anti-counterfeit operations in the country's history.
Joint forces from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Bureau of Customs (BOC) and Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) raided 17 warehouses in three separate compounds along Quirino Avenue.
Seized by authorities were fake goods such as footwear, apparel, accessories, and toiletries believed to be from China. Sacks of rice were also confiscated. Only a caretaker in one of the warehouses was arrested.
Authorities said the seized items were not only meant to be brought to Metro Manila stores but to malls in Cebu and Cagayan de Oro as well.
Following a two-month surveillance operation, authorities said they already have the names of the people suspected to be behind the illegal operation.
IPOPHL also said it will ask the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to freeze the bank accounts of the suspects, whose identities were not disclosed.
IPOPHL legal officer Jerome Turga said the owners of the warehouses are also facing charges under the landlord liability provision of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.
Investigators are also looking into the possibility that some of the earnings from the illegal operations are being used to finance criminal groups.
Last February 7, government operatives also seized counterfeit items worth over P600 million in Pasay and Parañaque.
Authorities believe the recent raids will hurt the fake goods industry in the country. – report from Dennis Datu, dzMM