Philippines Losing Billions to Illicit Trade

    Photo: Piotr Pawinski

    The Philippine government has lost nearly PHP3 billion ($588.17 million) in tax revenues since 2019 due to smuggling or illegal entry of cigarettes into the country, reports Philstar.

    The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted 127,675 master cases of illicit cigarettes since the Tobacco Tax Law was approved in 2019, according to BOC Deputy Commissioner Teddy Raval.

    The estimated value of the seized cigarettes reached PHP9.73 billion, more than half of which was accounted for in 2020 at PHP5.77 billion. The government forfeited PHP2.9 billion in excise revenues between 2019 and January 2022 due to smuggling of cigarettes.

    “They took advantage of the mobility restrictions, including Customs restrictions, but you caught them,” said Albay Representative Joey Salceda in a House hearing, referring to smugglers attempts to take advantage of Covid-19 restrictions.