Mighty Corp on alleged technical smuggling

Nearly a year after a Department of Finance (DOF) task force questioned Mighty Corp., the country’s oldest cigarette manufacturer, for alleged technical smuggling and tax evasion that resulted in huge revenue losses for the government, not a single illicit trade practices-related case has been filed against the firm.

For the record, “none,” the Public Information and Assistance Division of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has told the Inquirer.

However, a BOC administrative order, issued in January and suspending the firm’s customs bonded warehouse operations remained in force, noted the DOF-attached agency.

The move was necessary to “prevent revenue leakages while further investigation (of the company’s trade practices) was being conducted” by the finance department, Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla earlier said.

The 24/7 monitoring by a Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) team of Mighty’s 9-hectare fully integrated manufacturing and processing plant in Malolos, Bulacan, also continues.

The finance department has also required the firm to pay nearly P1 billion in customs duties and taxes for the importation of raw cigarette materials.

A BOC official interviewed for this story said, “Despite the fines imposed on Mighty Corp., it was neither blacklisted nor prevented from importing tobacco leaves and other cigarette-production materials.”

But the company’s operations are “being closely watched” by the DOF, said the official, who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak to media.

Sought for comment, Oscar Barrientos, Mighty Corp.’s executive vice president, acknowledged the company had paid “an initial P854 million and an additional P124 million (or a total of P978 million) for the duties and taxes of our imports.”

“Mighty has settled all the necessary duties with the Bureau of Customs for raw materials it earlier imported for use in producing cigarettes for export, but were subsequently used for domestic consumption,” said Barrientos, a retired regional trial court judge.

Disputing the BOC official’s claim that these were fines, Barrientos said “the bureau audited us for duties for our imports that were used for domestic consumption and we settled whatever was assessed.”

“Government records will also show that we have paid the corresponding taxes. That is why the BIR never charged us with tax evasion because we paid the right taxes,” Barrientos said.

He lamented that Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC), the nation’s top cigarette manufacturer, “continues to muddle the facts to suit its position and support its attempts to have the sin tax law amended.”

Earlier, he said the BOC suspension order did not cover Mighty’s regular importation for the domestic market.

“Nothing has changed. It’s still business as usual. We will continue to cooperate with the authorities… We have been transparent with the Bureau of Customs and we will continue to be transparent,” he said.

Customs personnel said the order would compel the firm to declare every single imported item it would use in the production of cigarettes for domestic consumption and pay the appropriate duties and taxes.

The word war, meanwhile, between the rival tobacco companies raged on last week with Barrientos telling PMFTC president Paul Riley to “shut up and mind your own business.”

The Mighty Corp. executive vice president assailed Riley for issuing a series of statements accusing the company of engaging in illegal trade practices.

Barrientos chided the PMFTC executive for his alleged ignorance of the law, noting “under existing jurisprudence, he who alleges must prove his case before accusing anyone of wrongdoing.”

“Riley is in no position whatsoever to be putting words into the mouths of government officials because he and the company he’s representing have a vested interest in the country’s multibillion-peso tobacco industry,” he said.

Employees learn a lot from Mighty Corp conducted trainings

Thirty people, including 17 from local tobacco manufacturer Mighty Corp., have completed a proficiency-training seminar conducted by American experts on tobacco leaf utilization, leaf chemistry and leaf purchases.

The seminar, jointly conducted by MC and American Tobacco Associates (TA) Inc., also trained the participants on the US Leaf Standards Grading System for both Burley and flue-cured tobacco developed by the US tobacco industry in the early 1900s.
Bobby Wellons, tobacco training specialist from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducted the US Leaf Standards Seminar on Burley and flue-cured together with TA’s vice president, Hank Mozingo.
According to retired Gen. Edilberto Adan, MC president, understanding leaf tobacco grading standards provides the foundation for learning and appreciating tobacco qualities and characteristics in the Philippines.
“More specifically,” he said, “the seminars helped those directly involved in tobacco manufacturing gain a better understanding of the unique characteristics of each US tobacco grade and which grades are more suitable for specific blend needs.”
While MC provided all the necessary on-site assistance and essentials, the TA group supplied all tobacco samples and training materials.
The short but comprehensive course was conducted at the new MC facility (Pavilion) located inside the factory grounds.
Aside from the MC participants, the others came from the National Tobacco Administration, Universal Leaf Philippines, Trans-Manila Inc., Continental Leaf, Prudence and WCD.
The first two days of the seminar focused on the Burley tobacco grades and characteristics. The remaining three days covered flue-cured.
At the end of the training course, each participant received a certification from USDA for completing the program.
Overall, the tobacco grading seminar has successfully served its purpose, providing participants with a deeper and a more extensive knowledge on the different sectors of the tobacco industry.

Mighty Corp on undervaluation issues

 

Allegations of undervaluation against Mighty Corp are highly speculative and inconclusive, according to the Bureau and Internal Revenue (BIR) and Senate Tax Study and Research Office (STSRO).
In the Oversight Committee Hearing held last Oct. 22, 2014, the government offices which monitor the implementation of the R.A 10351 or the Sin Tax Law presented the achievements and developments in their offices.
During the hearing, Sen. Vicente Sotto III, prior to asking questions, showed a presentation on Mighty alleging undervaluation that he said came from the STSRO.
However, the information in said report is considered for further analysis and therefore, not accurate.
BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, who was in the hearing, opposed the STSRO data which includes the discredited information on alleged illicit tobacco trade furnished by the International Tax and Investment Centre (ITIC) and Oxford Economics, as inaccurate, incomplete and not validated.
She also added that these data were commissioned and biased that may have been paid by PMFTC and that cannot be a basis against MC.
Based on ITIC’s Web site, one of its key officials is also a ranking official of Philip Morris International.
Rep. Raneo Abu of Batangas’ 2nd District, vice chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee and a ranking member of Joint Congressional Oversight Committee (JCOC), has also mentioned that if the data or the information were not validated and biased, the BIR, BoC and the NTA should coordinate and these offices should be the one to submit the accurate, validated and unbiased information to the oversight Committee.
Partially reported to the oversight committee were inconclusive findings from Mighty’s suppliers, Eastman Chemical Company and Celanese Corp.
In dismissing the allegations, the company’s executive vice president Ret. Judge Oscar P. Barrientos cited Article 10 of the World Trade Organization (WTO) General Agreement on Tariff and Trade.
Under WTO: “All information which is by nature confidential or which is provided on a confidential basis for the purposes of customs valuation shall be treated as strictly confidential by the authorities concerned who shall not disclose it without the specific permission of the person or government providing such information, except to the extent that it may be required to be disclosed in the context of judicial proceedings.”
“This is clearly a trial by publicity,” he said, adding that suppliers are not allowed to disclose the agreed value of the imported raw materials between the supplier and buyer until after the valuation is determined on a transaction value basis as required by the WTO, the Kyoto Convention and World Customs Organization, including adjustments to current inflation.
“Besides,” Barrientos said, “our records of tax liquidations with the Bureau of Customs are verifiable and Mighty has not been penalized for any wrongdoing.”
“It’s unfortunate that instead of just collating information for purposes of legislation, some sectors biased against Mighty have acted as inquisitor, prosecutor and judge rolled into one supposedly for the JCOC hearing on the review of the Sin Tax Law,” Barrientos pointed out.

 

 

False accusations against Mighty Corp

Allegations of undervaluation against Mighty Corp are highly speculative and inconclusive, according to the Bureau and Internal Revenue (BIR) and Senate Tax Study and Research Office (STSRO).
In the Oversight Committee Hearing held last Oct. 22, 2014, the government offices which monitor the implementation of the R.A 10351 or the Sin Tax Law presented the achievements and developments in their offices.
During the hearing, Sen. Vicente Sotto III, prior to asking questions, showed a presentation on Mighty alleging undervaluation that he said came from the STSRO.
However, the information in said report is considered for further analysis and therefore, not accurate.
BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, who was in the hearing, opposed the STSRO data which includes the discredited information on alleged illicit tobacco trade furnished by the International Tax and Investment Centre (ITIC) and Oxford Economics, as inaccurate, incomplete and not validated.
She also added that these data were commissioned and biased that may have been paid by PMFTC and that cannot be a basis against MC.
Based on ITIC’s Web site, one of its key officials is also a ranking official of Philip Morris International.
Rep. Raneo Abu of Batangas’ 2nd District, vice chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee and a ranking member of Joint Congressional Oversight Committee (JCOC), has also mentioned that if the data or the information were not validated and biased, the BIR, BoC and the NTA should coordinate and these offices should be the one to submit the accurate, validated and unbiased information to the oversight Committee.
Partially reported to the oversight committee were inconclusive findings from Mighty’s suppliers, Eastman Chemical Company and Celanese Corp.
In dismissing the allegations, the company’s executive vice president Ret. Judge Oscar P. Barrientos cited Article 10 of the World Trade Organization (WTO) General Agreement on Tariff and Trade.
Under WTO: “All information which is by nature confidential or which is provided on a confidential basis for the purposes of customs valuation shall be treated as strictly confidential by the authorities concerned who shall not disclose it without the specific permission of the person or government providing such information, except to the extent that it may be required to be disclosed in the context of judicial proceedings.”
“This is clearly a trial by publicity,” he said, adding that suppliers are not allowed to disclose the agreed value of the imported raw materials between the supplier and buyer until after the valuation is determined on a transaction value basis as required by the WTO, the Kyoto Convention and World Customs Organization, including adjustments to current inflation.
“Besides,” Barrientos said, “our records of tax liquidations with the Bureau of Customs are verifiable and Mighty has not been penalized for any wrongdoing.”
“It’s unfortunate that instead of just collating information for purposes of legislation, some sectors biased against Mighty have acted as inquisitor, prosecutor and judge rolled into one supposedly for the JCOC hearing on the review of the Sin Tax Law,” Barrientos pointed out.

On illicit trade practice and Mighty Corp

Nearly a year after a Department of Finance (DOF) task force questioned Mighty Corp., the country’s oldest cigarette manufacturer, for alleged technical smuggling and tax evasion that resulted in huge revenue losses for the government, not a single illicit trade practices-related case has been filed against the firm.

For the record, “none,” the Public Information and Assistance Division of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has told the Inquirer.

However, a BOC administrative order, issued in January and suspending the firm’s customs bonded warehouse operations remained in force, noted the DOF-attached agency.

The move was necessary to “prevent revenue leakages while further investigation (of the company’s trade practices) was being conducted” by the finance department, Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla earlier said.

The 24/7 monitoring by a Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) team of Mighty’s 9-hectare fully integrated manufacturing and processing plant in Malolos, Bulacan, also continues.

The finance department has also required the firm to pay nearly P1 billion in customs duties and taxes for the importation of raw cigarette materials.

A BOC official interviewed for this story said, “Despite the fines imposed on Mighty Corp., it was neither blacklisted nor prevented from importing tobacco leaves and other cigarette-production materials.”

But the company’s operations are “being closely watched” by the DOF, said the official, who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak to media.

Sought for comment, Oscar Barrientos, Mighty Corp.’s executive vice president, acknowledged the company had paid “an initial P854 million and an additional P124 million (or a total of P978 million) for the duties and taxes of our imports.”

“Mighty has settled all the necessary duties with the Bureau of Customs for raw materials it earlier imported for use in producing cigarettes for export, but were subsequently used for domestic consumption,” said Barrientos, a retired regional trial court judge.

Disputing the BOC official’s claim that these were fines, Barrientos said “the bureau audited us for duties for our imports that were used for domestic consumption and we settled whatever was assessed.”

“Government records will also show that we have paid the corresponding taxes. That is why the BIR never charged us with tax evasion because we paid the right taxes,” Barrientos said.

He lamented that Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC), the nation’s top cigarette manufacturer, “continues to muddle the facts to suit its position and support its attempts to have the sin tax law amended.”

Earlier, he said the BOC suspension order did not cover Mighty’s regular importation for the domestic market.

“Nothing has changed. It’s still business as usual. We will continue to cooperate with the authorities… We have been transparent with the Bureau of Customs and we will continue to be transparent,” he said.

Customs personnel said the order would compel the firm to declare every single imported item it would use in the production of cigarettes for domestic consumption and pay the appropriate duties and taxes.

The word war, meanwhile, between the rival tobacco companies raged on last week with Barrientos telling PMFTC president Paul Riley to “shut up and mind your own business.”

The Mighty Corp. executive vice president assailed Riley for issuing a series of statements accusing the company of engaging in illegal trade practices.

Barrientos chided the PMFTC executive for his alleged ignorance of the law, noting “under existing jurisprudence, he who alleges must prove his case before accusing anyone of wrongdoing.”

“Riley is in no position whatsoever to be putting words into the mouths of government officials because he and the company he’s representing have a vested interest in the country’s multibillion-peso tobacco industry,” he said.

Mighty Corp targeting increased of their market share next year

Bulacan-based Mighty Corp. will continue to eat up a slice of market share from rivals as the Wongchuking-owned tobacco firm believes it offers quality but cheaper alternatives to expensive cigarette brands, a company official said.
In a briefing late Thursday, Oscar P. Barrientos, Mighty executive vice-president, said smokers continued to shift from premium brands to cheaper alternatives this year as prices of cigarettes in the domestic market rose due to reformed excise tax law.
“Mighty’s market share is rising because of our very competitive price as well as quality of our cigarettes,” Barrientos told reporters. “Consumers are shifting from premium to low-premium brands after the new excise tax law.”
Barrientos said Mighty’s market share grew from 5 percent in 2012 to between 10 percent and 12 percent last year. The company earlier claimed its market share stood at 20 percent in 2013.
“For this year, we’re targeting to expand it by two percentage points, or 12 percent to 14 percent,” Barriento said. “The country’s tobacco industry is estimated to be more than 100 billion sticks annually.”

Barrientos said the company currently sells its Mighty brand for P26 to P27 a pack, while Marvel brand for P25 to P26 per pack, both higher by P5 compared with last year’s retail price, reflecting the P5 increase in excise tax rate this year.
However, some retailers sell Mighty brand at P23 per pack, while Marvel brand P18.4 per pack.
Barrientos, meanwhile, noted a slight decline in number of adult-smokers in 2013 based on the report of the Department of Health (DOH).
But despite the decline in smokers’ population, Barriento said Mighty is still positioning for the forthcoming unitary excise tax rate of P26 per cigarette packet by 2017.

Barrientos said Mighty expects demand for low-premium cigarette brands will decline in 2017, while premium brands may regain their popularity in the next three-years.
“That’s why we launched our premium brands King and Chelsea in a bid to firm up our position.” the company executive said. Mighty is currently the country’s second largest cigarette firm in terms of market share, next to PMFTC Inc.

Barrientos, meanwhile, just shrugged off Marlboro-maker and Lucio Tan’s foreign partner, Philip Morris International (PMI), accusations against Mighty of tax dodging.
“Those are baseless accusations by Philip Morris,” Barrientos said “But we’re ready to face investigations by authorities. Our factory is open to any inspection by Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs.”
Barrientos also explained the company managed to lower its operational cost as it does not pay royalty to foreign headquarters, like in the case of PMFTC, and has no foreign consultants or employees.

He, meanwhile, revealed that Mighty’s manufacturing cost of cigarette per packet declined last year from 2012 as the company expands its market share.
“Our cost per pack of cigarette is around P3.5 to P4 [excluding taxes], this is cheaper than in 2012 when our market share was small. We managed to reduce the cost as Mighty expands market share due to economies of scale,” Barrientos explained.

Mighty Corp on malicious statement made by rival company

Mighty Corp., the country’s oldest Filipino-owned cigarette producer, slammed Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp., Inc. (PMFTC) President Paul Riley for making unfounded and malicious statements over allegations of fraudulent activities.

“Paul Riley’s statements are the height of irresponsibility, malice and very unbecoming  of a ranking executive of a multinational company. He’s obviously very desperate to resort to this kind of lying and mudslinging,” Mighty Executive Vice President Oscar P. Barrientos said.

Barrientos was reacting to the PMFTC executive’s claim that Mighty had undervalued its imports based on its own funded and self-serving report and the study done by the Senate Tax Study and Research Office (STSRO) which is still incomplete and subject to final analysis.

“What PMFTC and Riley conveniently kept from the public is that the STSRO study used data culled from a report on alleged illicit tobacco trade conducted by the International Tax and Investment Center and Oxford Economics. This report was commissioned and funded by Philip Morris International which makes it self-serving,” Barrientos said.

“This illicit tobacco trade report has since been debunked and discredited by tobacco control organizations and health groups as inaccurate and biased. Philip Morris exerted efforts to influence government against adopting policies that affect its business,” he added.

PMFTC had controlled 94 percent of the Philippine cigarette market until 2011 when Republic Act 10351 or the Sin Tax Reform Law was passed. It lost some of its share to Mighty after the law leveled the playing field and promoted competition.

“This foreign monopolist has no authority whatsoever to speak in behalf of our local authorities because he simply wants to pressure the government to amend the RA 10351 in their favor,” the retired Judge added.

According to data available on the public domain, Philip Morris International, the company’s mother unit, has a long running history of fighting governments across continents against stricter tobacco control legislation that affects its business.

The Senate’s transcript of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee hearing last October 22, 2014 showed that lawmakers and Cabinet officials debated on the validity of the Senate Tax Study Research Office (STSRO) study.

Barrientos said: “PMFTC anticipated the delay for this transcript to come out. It was a well-timed attack, aimed at us [Mighty] to malign our business, using us as a whipping post and push forward their ulterior motive of amending the Sin Tax Law because from the very beginning, PMFTC was against it.”

In the hearing, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares said the DTI data provided in the STSRO study is questionable because it only provided Philip Morris’ purely consumption entries but failed to mention that the company has a Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) transshipment and warehousing facility.

“You cannot say Philip Morris is purely consumption [entries]. I’m not saying it’s the fault of the STSRO because they got the data from DTI. But DTI does not have any data, only projections. The data they have in the first place, should have warehousing and transshipment because PEZA is under DTI,” Henares said.

“They [DTI] never asked us [BIR] for any actual data,” she added.

“The [STSRO] study is also based on the global research that was done by this group [Nielsen] that was paid for by Philip Morris,” as Henares subsequently revealed that AC Nielsen is still yet to provide the data to authorities.

The meeting ended in a consensus that the STSRO report is incomplete and data from the three other concerned agencies, BIR, BOC and NTA, will be submitted for further verification.

Mighty Corp relieved over the cases on illicit trade

Nearly a year after a Department of Finance (DOF) task force questioned Mighty Corp., the country’s oldest cigarette manufacturer, for alleged technical smuggling and tax evasion that resulted in huge revenue losses for the government, not a single illicit trade practices-related case has been filed against the firm.

For the record, “none,” the Public Information and Assistance Division of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has told the Inquirer.

However, a BOC administrative order, issued in January and suspending the firm’s customs bonded warehouse operations remained in force, noted the DOF-attached agency.

The move was necessary to “prevent revenue leakages while further investigation (of the company’s trade practices) was being conducted” by the finance department, Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla earlier said.

The 24/7 monitoring by a Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) team of Mighty’s 9-hectare fully integrated manufacturing and processing plant in Malolos, Bulacan, also continues.

The finance department has also required the firm to pay nearly P1 billion in customs duties and taxes for the importation of raw cigarette materials.

A BOC official interviewed for this story said, “Despite the fines imposed on Mighty Corp., it was neither blacklisted nor prevented from importing tobacco leaves and other cigarette-production materials.”

But the company’s operations are “being closely watched” by the DOF, said the official, who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak to media.

Sought for comment, Oscar Barrientos, Mighty Corp.’s executive vice president, acknowledged the company had paid “an initial P854 million and an additional P124 million (or a total of P978 million) for the duties and taxes of our imports.”

“Mighty has settled all the necessary duties with the Bureau of Customs for raw materials it earlier imported for use in producing cigarettes for export, but were subsequently used for domestic consumption,” said Barrientos, a retired regional trial court judge.

Disputing the BOC official’s claim that these were fines, Barrientos said “the bureau audited us for duties for our imports that were used for domestic consumption and we settled whatever was assessed.”

“Government records will also show that we have paid the corresponding taxes. That is why the BIR never charged us with tax evasion because we paid the right taxes,” Barrientos said.

He lamented that Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC), the nation’s top cigarette manufacturer, “continues to muddle the facts to suit its position and support its attempts to have the sin tax law amended.”

Earlier, he said the BOC suspension order did not cover Mighty’s regular importation for the domestic market.

“Nothing has changed. It’s still business as usual. We will continue to cooperate with the authorities… We have been transparent with the Bureau of Customs and we will continue to be transparent,” he said.

Customs personnel said the order would compel the firm to declare every single imported item it would use in the production of cigarettes for domestic consumption and pay the appropriate duties and taxes.

The word war, meanwhile, between the rival tobacco companies raged on last week with Barrientos telling PMFTC president Paul Riley to “shut up and mind your own business.”

The Mighty Corp. executive vice president assailed Riley for issuing a series of statements accusing the company of engaging in illegal trade practices.

Barrientos chided the PMFTC executive for his alleged ignorance of the law, noting “under existing jurisprudence, he who alleges must prove his case before accusing anyone of wrongdoing.”

“Riley is in no position whatsoever to be putting words into the mouths of government officials because he and the company he’s representing have a vested interest in the country’s multibillion-peso tobacco industry,” he said.

Mighty Corp answered issues regarding technical smuggling

Nearly a year after a Department of Finance (DOF) task force questioned Mighty Corp., the country’s oldest cigarette manufacturer, for alleged technical smuggling and tax evasion that resulted in huge revenue losses for the government, not a single illicit trade practices-related case has been filed against the firm.

For the record, “none,” the Public Information and Assistance Division of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has told the Inquirer.

However, a BOC administrative order, issued in January and suspending the firm’s customs bonded warehouse operations remained in force, noted the DOF-attached agency.

The move was necessary to “prevent revenue leakages while further investigation (of the company’s trade practices) was being conducted” by the finance department, Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla earlier said.

The 24/7 monitoring by a Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) team of Mighty’s 9-hectare fully integrated manufacturing and processing plant in Malolos, Bulacan, also continues.

The finance department has also required the firm to pay nearly P1 billion in customs duties and taxes for the importation of raw cigarette materials.

A BOC official interviewed for this story said, “Despite the fines imposed on Mighty Corp., it was neither blacklisted nor prevented from importing tobacco leaves and other cigarette-production materials.”

But the company’s operations are “being closely watched” by the DOF, said the official, who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak to media.

Sought for comment, Oscar Barrientos, Mighty Corp.’s executive vice president, acknowledged the company had paid “an initial P854 million and an additional P124 million (or a total of P978 million) for the duties and taxes of our imports.”

“Mighty has settled all the necessary duties with the Bureau of Customs for raw materials it earlier imported for use in producing cigarettes for export, but were subsequently used for domestic consumption,” said Barrientos, a retired regional trial court judge.

Disputing the BOC official’s claim that these were fines, Barrientos said “the bureau audited us for duties for our imports that were used for domestic consumption and we settled whatever was assessed.”

“Government records will also show that we have paid the corresponding taxes. That is why the BIR never charged us with tax evasion because we paid the right taxes,” Barrientos said.

He lamented that Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC), the nation’s top cigarette manufacturer, “continues to muddle the facts to suit its position and support its attempts to have the sin tax law amended.”

Earlier, he said the BOC suspension order did not cover Mighty’s regular importation for the domestic market.

“Nothing has changed. It’s still business as usual. We will continue to cooperate with the authorities… We have been transparent with the Bureau of Customs and we will continue to be transparent,” he said.

Customs personnel said the order would compel the firm to declare every single imported item it would use in the production of cigarettes for domestic consumption and pay the appropriate duties and taxes.

The word war, meanwhile, between the rival tobacco companies raged on last week with Barrientos telling PMFTC president Paul Riley to “shut up and mind your own business.”

The Mighty Corp. executive vice president assailed Riley for issuing a series of statements accusing the company of engaging in illegal trade practices.

Barrientos chided the PMFTC executive for his alleged ignorance of the law, noting “under existing jurisprudence, he who alleges must prove his case before accusing anyone of wrongdoing.”

“Riley is in no position whatsoever to be putting words into the mouths of government officials because he and the company he’s representing have a vested interest in the country’s multibillion-peso tobacco industry,” he said.

Mighty Corp on the expansion of their products

 

Mighty Corp., the Philippines’ oldest cigarette maker, vowed to increase tobacco procurement from local suppliers for its expanding product line.

Executive Vice President Oscar Barrientos said the company, which is celebrating its 69th anniversary, is looking to export local blended and expanded tobacco.

“We are working closely with local farmers and our local tobacco suppliers in planning and implementing our expansion programs,” Barrientos said.

“We plan to export local tobacco. We are fully committed to support our local farmers and the local tobacco industry as we move forward and compete in the local and foreign markets,” he added.

Mighty Corp.’s anniversary will be highlighted by the re-launching of the company’s oldest and flagship brands—La Campana Ringing Bell and Alhambra cigarettes—known traditionally as “Matamis” and “Regaliz” blend lines.

The company, which produces brands in the non-premium category, had earlier launched two brands in the premium category: King and Chelsea. These two brands are now categorized in the highest tax bracket for cigarettes.

“We hope to extend the reach of Mighty Corp. and strengthen our position as the top Filipino-owned tobacco company in the Philippines,” Barrientos said.

The company was established in 1945 as La Campana Fabrica de Tabacos, Inc. by Wong Chu King and started out with a small cigarette factory in Manila.

A facility for tobacco threshing and redrying was constructed in 1963 in Malolos, Bulacan where the company’s present-day nine-hectare fully integrated manufacturing and processing plant is located.

The company was renamed Mighty Corp. in 1985.

Meanwhile, Barrientos said the company is ready for the smooth implementation of the cigarette stamp tax system after activating contingencies it drew up six months ago to ensure full compliance with the new tax regulation.

 

He said the company is ready to comply with the new tax system, saying some of Mighty Corp.’s machines are now equipped with stamp applicators.