NBI, FIGHT IT ANNOUNCES COLLABORATION VS. ILLICIT TRADE
The government campaign to fight smuggling and illicit trade got a welcome boost with a much needed support from the private sector.
The National Bureau of Investigations and the Fight Illicit Trade (Fight IT) movement announced collaboration plans to minimize, if not stamp out, all forms of illicit trade practices throughout the country.
NBI Director Virgilio Mendez welcomed the support extended by Fight IT saying the help of the private sector would be vital in the bureau’s campaign for intelligence gathering, enforcement and all the way down to prosecution.
Fight IT Chairman Jesus Arranza said the movement will help the NBI by providing actionable intelligence on the ground taking into consideration the need for confidentiality, data protection reliability and security in dealing with the investigation and prosecution of illegal traders.
Arranza said members of the movement will provide the NBI will logistical assistance such as warehouses where the bureau can store seized or confiscated items to preserve evidence until final conviction and court-ordered disposition or destruction.
Fight IT is a broad-based, multi-sectoral movement intended to protect consumers, safeguard government revenues and shield legitimate industries from the ill-effects of smuggling. The movement was launched last year and made up mostly of members of the anti-smuggling committee of the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI).
Fight IT is an the alliance brings together major players from industries with some of the most commonly smuggled goods or products such as rice, sugar, corn, palm oil, tobacco, steel, cement, ceramic tiles among others.
The NBI and Fight IT announced that they will also work with intellectual property groups to go after counterfeiters and those selling fake branded products.
Upon the request of the NBI, Fight IT will organize training sessions for the bureau’s personnel to help them spot or identify fake products from cigarettes, shampoos to cellphones and tablets.
“The growing incidence of illicit trade and its damaging effects on industries and the consumers, not to mention its impact on government revenue owing to forgone customs duties and excise taxes, are concerns that prompted us to take a more encompassing campaign to involve local industries and the public,” said Arranza, who is also the FPI chairman.
Arranza, who also represents the coconut industry in the movement, said illicit trade is a serious economic problem that robs the government of billions of pesos in revenues, harms consumers, and undercuts legitimate local manufacturers.
He added that it also fuels the criminal element in our community, and all the social ills that go along with it, thus the need to work closely with the NBI.
On the photo: FIGHT Illicit Trade. Crime Stoppers International (CSI) President Alexander Macdonald (left) and Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) Chairman and Fight Illicit Trade Movement (FIGHT IT) lead convener Jesus Lim Arranza (right) agree to work together to fight criminality particularly on illicit trade and smuggling. CSI, the leading global citizen crime-solving organization with presence in 26 countries, works through an anonymous crime-reporting network that leads to high rate of crime solutions. Chairman Arranza said the partnership between FIGHT IT and CSI will be vital to law enforcement and intelligence gathering, since the identification of sources will not be compromised with CSI’s guarantee of anonymity. The agreement aims to bolster government and private sector campaigns against illicit trade, smuggling, and related crimes. While in Manila, CSI also met with top officials of National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine National Police.