MANILA — Investigators from the police’s anti-fraud and commercial crimes unit on Wednesday raided 3 warehouses in Malabon, Manila and Cavite suspected of housing counterfeit flavor enhancements.
After tracking down the supplier, which sold its alleged fake products to wet market vendors and sari-sari stores, the aforementioned unit of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group simultaneously raided the Tianci International Cargo Express/Lucky Javier Santos warehouse in Platinum Street, Barangay Tinajeros, Malabon City; a warehouse in Barangay Niog 3, Molino, Bacoor, Cavite; and a wholesale store in Blumentritt Road, Manila.
Inside the Malabon warehouse, authorities discovered 415 boxes of alleged counterfeit seasoning granules worth about P3.2 million, which were packed and ready for distribution.
Authorities said they also found a sack of granules that had yet to be added to the inventory.
Police Inspector Noel Seno, team leader of the Malabon raid, said: "Pagpasok namin nakita agad namin iyong mga boxes of counterfeit [seasoning]. Bukod doon, may ibang items na hindi namin ma-determine kung counterfeit."
Seno added that representatives of the manufacturer verified the goods to be fake.
"Positive na counterfeit kasi we have representatives from the manufacturer. According to them, fake talaga. Itong counterfeit na ito ay dadalhin daw sa probinsya. Nag-violate sila ng intellectual property rights natin," Seno said.
According to the anti-fraud unit, the suggested retail price of one sachet of the original seasoning granules is P4, but sachets of the alleged fake seasoning were sold at P5 for 3 pieces.
Superintendent Rizalito Gapas, acting chief of the CIDG anti-fraud unit, said: "Nadi-distribute ito sa mga streets, sa mga bangketa, so iyong mga taong wala namang awareness sa mga ganitong mga counterfeit, nabibili nila kasi readily available sa stores and markets. That's why we applied search warrants para makuha natin in bulk at hindi na makarating sa market."
Gapas added that the counterfeit granules were salty and not savory, and the fake seasoning had a foul smell.
Authorities expressed concern that the public may have unknowingly consumed fake products. Gapas advised the public to be vigilant and meticulous when buying products, especially when they are added to food.
Representatives of the seasoning manufacturer refused to give a statement.
As this article was being written, authorities were tracking down the warehouse owners and the source of the counterfeit products.
The manufacturer of a popular seasoning brand approached the CIDG anti-fraud unit to complain about the prevalence of counterfeit products. This prompted law enforcers to investigate.
"Apparently the items are being sold in the metropolis. This is endangering the health of our citizens, that's why the CIDG acted promptly on this matter," Gapas said.