NBI, officials from Mighty Corp hunting fake cigarette suppliers

Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have arrested two suspects for supplying fake Mighty Corp cigarettes to a sari-sari store in Bocaue, Bulacan.

The suspects, Guillermo B. Ediesca and Jonathan E. Jimenez, were arrested for selling counterfeit Mighty Full Flavor and Menthol 100’s soft pack variants on a complaint filed by Mighty Corp., a Filipino-owned cigarette manufacturer.

Among the discrepancies confirmed by Mighty were the cigarette quality and the print packaging such as misspelling of the word “Manufactured” to “Manufacture” and the absence of a manufacturing code on the packs, among others.

Retired Judge Oscar P. Barrientos, Mighty Executive Vice President, said the fake cigarettes seized in Bulacan also alarmingly contained counterfeit BIR tax stamps.

Mighty has launched a relentless campaign against unscrupulous traders faking their brands and using bogus stamps in coordination with the NBI and the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Last April 26, NBI-Bulacan District Office (BULDO) agents led by AIC Arnel Dalumpines conducted a buy-bust operation in a sari-sari store regularly supplied by the suspects in Bocaue, Bulacan.

Ediesca and Jimenez were immediately arrested by NBI agents after receiving marked money for their delivery of eleven rims of fake Mighty cigarettes.

The NBI filed charges against the two for violating Republic Act 8293 or the Trademark Infringement and Unfair Competition Law before the Provincial Prosecutors’ Office in Malolos, Bulacan.

Earlier, the NBI also arrested three suspects for selling several cartons of fake Mighty cigarettes of the same variants in Cebu City.

Mighty Corporation Promises a Great Year for Farmers

Local cigarette manufacturer, Mighty Corporation or Mighty Corp is out to save the local tobacco growing industry from projected collapse by buying more tobacco leaves and helping over three million tobacco farmers and their dependents increase their yield in the North Luzon provinces.

Mighty Corp executive vice president Oscar Barrientos said that the company’s share of the domestic market dramatically increased from a minimal 5% in 2012 to 20% in 2013.  This prompted them to increase assistance to millions of tobacco farmers whose lives were dependent on the tobacco industry.

“We have earned our fair share of the market by making quality but affordable cigarettes that were smartly packaged, creatively and ingenuously sold to the mass market. That is the secret of our success in breaking the cigarette monopoly in this country and we’re mighty proud of our modest success coming from a homegrown and Filipino-owned cigarette company,” said Barrientos, who also serves as Mighty Corporation’s spokesperson.

“With a bigger share of Mighty Corp in the market today, we are giving the tobacco farmers a fair share of our success by offering competitive prices to their crops,” added Barrientos.

Over the years, Mighty Corporation had consistently championed the cause of the Filipino tobacco farmers by buying a larger share of the low-grade tobacco leaves at good prices.

“Last year alone, we have bought even the low-priced tobacco leaves. Had Mighty Corp not done that, it would have created a great economic dislocation for tobacco farmers,” said Barrientos.

Barrientos also added that it was not only the tobacco farmers who were benefiting from Mighty Corp’s growth but the whole country as well through the company’s payment of taxes from cigarette sales.

“Our contribution is in the form of taxes, because it helps the development of the country, with taxes. We were paying P300 million before, now we are paying more than P8 billion in excise taxes and that helps the economy. We also employed more factory workers. Now, we have more than 2,000,” Barrientos said.

With bigger contribution, Mighty Corp was also expanding its corporate social responsibility projects to help tobacco cooperatives increase their production.

“As far as CSR is concerned, we will have irrigation pumps in their area and provide mini tractors. This will come in the form of grant. We will have scholarship grants,” he said.  “We have other plans. Aside from scholarship, by next year, we plan to give awards for outstanding farmers, in cooperation with the National Tobacco Administration.”

Mighty Corporation had a long-term plan to further improve its market share and help hundreds of thousands of tobacco leaf growers’ workers.  A 2011 data of the National Tobacco Administration put at about 3 million the number of people employed directly and indirectly in the tobacco industry.  The number also includes their dependents.


Lawmaker warns of 6K job losses if Mighty Corp shut

BY  ON MAY 2, 2017

A congressional leader has thumbed down the proposed closure of Mighty Corporation, which is facing a P9.5-billion tax evasion case filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), saying at least 6,000 direct jobs are on the line if the cigarette maker is ordered closed.

“The President already ordered to deal with them thru out of court settlements. They (Mighty Corporation executives) should be penalized, but their operations should not be cancelled,” Rep. Randolph Ting of Cagayan, chairman of the House Committee on Labor, said in a statement released on Labor Day.


Ting views BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay’s threat to close down Mighty Corporation as shortsighted since Mighty has 6,000 direct and indirect employees on top of some 55,000 tobacco farmers who rely Mighty to buy their produce.

Ting said the BIR’s stance runs counter to President Rodrigo Duterte’s position, which is for the government to enter into out-of-court settlements with companies facing tax evasion cases in order to generate funds for social services.

“This Mighty Corporation is already an established company, a Filipino-owned firm that has been providing jobs for Filipinos for a very long time. Without it, where will their people go for jobs? Besides, the constituents of all tobacco-producing provinces will also be affected should tobacco farmers no longer plant tobacco, making them disqualified from getting their allocation under the Sin Tax Law,” Ting pointed out.

He argued that government officials should work on ensuring investments and job generation for Filipinos, not the other way around.

“We should allow them to correct the concerns raised against them. He (Dulay) should follow the lead of the President,” Ting added.

Earlier, Rep. Manuel Lopez of Manila also opposed the BIR’s court battle with Mighty Corporation, citing President Duterte’s stance that an out of court settlement with Mighty could fund the upgrade of public hospitals in Tondo, Manila which include Ospital ng Tondo, Tondo Medical Center and Gat Andres Bonifacio Medical Center.

“Funding for these hospitals is very good news for my constituents because it will provide immediate relief to indigent patients,” Lopez said in an earlier statement.

Aside from Tondo hospitals, President Duterte has said he could use the money to also build hospitals in Basilan and Jolo, Sulu, as well as for building a relocation site for informal settlers.

Source: http://www.manilatimes.net/lawmaker-warns-6k-job-losses-mighty-corp-shut/325077/



Tobacco farmers cry for help, renewing ties with San Juan’s Mayor Guia

Published April 30, 2017, 12:05 AM

By Deedee M. Siytangco

“God help me to focus on the truth instead of the trial. Help me to give thanks instead of giving in to fear. Help me to choose joy instead of anger. Help me to trust in Your power instead of my plan. Help me to elevate Your name instead of my own.”

A compromise or settlement can be an honorable, if a very practical way, to settle any dispute.

Especially in a legal issue that can drag on for years and drain the resources of both the complainant and the party being sued. Big money on both sides has to be spent, which could otherwise be used for better purposes than a lengthy legal battle.

Why am I sounding off on a legal matter this lazy Sunday, just before the rains of May and right after the ASEAN Summit?

Well, one, a very good friend of mine woefully related how her family is still embroiled in a legal tussle with her elder siblings on their vast inheritance from their banker-real estate developer father. It has been more than two decades, I asked, and you’re still at it? Why? Your lawyers are richer than you guys now!

My siblings refuse to compromise, she answered sadly. It’s all or nothing. So we are still at this “nothing” stage. For them or for us.

This week, “compromise” came floating into my consciousness again after reading in this paper the item on the opinion of Justice Secretary Vitalino Aguirre on the festering issue of collecting taxes owed to the government of a big home-grown cigarette manufacturer. Now, Mighty Corporation employs 1,600 workers and buys from local tobacco farmers, (about 55,000 of them all from tobacco producing provinces) so they do contribute to the country’s economy. How many families do those numbers add to? Somewhere along the way Mighty, according to BIR, incurred back excise taxes because of “spurious” BIR seals on their cigarette packs.

As an aside, I find this strange because I have seen the modern, highly-guarded BIR printing presses in the APO compound in Limay, Batangas and can’t imagine how the BIR seals can still be faked. Anyway, the government has decreed that Mighty owes some nine billion pesos and President Duterte, first adamant against any settlement, or a compromise (or a staggered payment offer),  is now amenable to the firm paying three billion pesos but in one swoop. Aguirre thinks this is fine, as a legal battle will not benefit any of the two parties, and government can certainly use that tax money windfall.

“R3 billion is what the government is asking as a compromise tax  payment  but only one-time payment. This way,” he observed, “the Duterte administration can avoid a long legal battle.”

Wise words, but wait, BIR’s Commissioner Dulay has announced he is cancelling Mighty’s permit to operate? Just a moment po. Mighty I know has stopped operating since the “fake” stamps were brought up rendering their worker and farmers dependent on them jobless and income-less. In fact, they are appealing for help from President Duterte.

How will we cope? Mario Cabasal, president of the 55,000-member National Federation of Tobacco Farmers Associations and Cooperatives asks. No other cigarette manufacturer buys locally produced tobacco except Mighty. I believe it’s time to let Mighty go back to its operations and pay its obligations!

As I said, compromises are better than long drawn-out litigation. Look at Pacquiao, the boxer-senator. Then BIR Commissioner Kim Henares went after him for non-payment of taxes due the government but his defense was that he already paid in the US! Now he still owes back taxes and with hope the government’s economic team can hammer out a “deal” with Pacman and get some of his earnings !

* **

Meanwhile, in the tiny city of San Juan, (population 150,000; voters, 80,000) site of the historic  Battle of San Juan del Monte (Pinaglabanan) in 1896,  now with the best “tiangge” for locals and tourists in the country, its  gracious “mayora” is busy making sure the informal dwellers in dangerous areas are being relocated to livable sites. Providing housing is, after all, her flagship project.

Mayor Guia Gomez Ejercito realizes that she is losing many registered voters when she relocates them outside the city but she continues with her housing projects. Happily many come back to vote as they are still registered and because they know who to be loyal to.

At 77, Mayora Guia has some difficulty walking fast now, but she retains the charm, graciousness, and beauty that made her the beloved First Lady of San Juan and for the past seven years, its beautiful, approachable, hard-working “mayora.” I first met her when Joseph Estrada, the love of her life and Senator JV Ejercito’s father, was first elected mayor of San Juan, then a struggling municipality.

She was already the hands-on First Lady with her clean-up and community livelihood endeavors (which are still alive now) and when her son JV became mayor after, she quietly helped, too. Politicos in and out of San Juan beat a path to her residence through the years, especially when they   wanted her sage advice and help in their campaigns. She was always ready to extend a helping hand or give pointers. Her image was clean and friendly and this helped them, just to be seen in her company.

To the disadvantaged, her motto was “Give until it hurts.” She put her soul, passion, and heart into her public service.

“I gave San Juan my all my best,” Guia told us. And now that she is on her last term, she confided during a dinner at the XO Heritage Bistro in Estancia that she regretted none of the heartaches or brickbats and poisoned arrows from some of her political foes as long as she helped her constituents, rich or poor.

San Juan has its own PUP university campus and will soon have its own general hospital. A San Juan museum is in the works and more housing. But the location sites must be equipped for people to start their lives decently, their mayor asserts.

So why is this lady mayor being mercilessly pilloried by her political rivals in all venues, especially in social media? C’mon guys…you used to be on the same side. Don’t let greed and ambition get the better of you!

Source: http://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2017/04/30/tobacco-farmers-cry-for-help-renewing-ties-with-san-juans-mayor-guia/



Mighty Corp. Preserving Historic Churches in the Philippines

They already pledged to aid in the seismic retrofitting of historic churches in Philippines.

In fact they started renovation project for the historic Diocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the largest church in all of Cavite,

Alexander Wongchuking, WCKF executive director said:
“We cannot allow this historic church to go into disrepair because it had not only strengthened the Filipino faith but also stands as a mute witness to the martyrdom of the defenders of Philippine freedom and nationhood,” , recalling the church’s role in the fight for Philippine independence from Spanish, American and Japanese conquerors.

As they offered help, the foundation focused on repairing the church’s roof and ceiling. But Mrs. Wongchuking heard of the personal project of Fr. Virgilio Saenz-Mendoza, the parish priest, and the people of Naic to refurbish the outer walls of the church.

WCKF did the same help to San Juan City, The foundation celebrates by giving support to some educational projects and program by funding the Sacred Heart Chapel of the Senior High School Building for Xavier School in San Juan City. I

The Foundation is the social action arm of cigarette manufacturer, Mighty Corporation (MC), for giving top priority to apostolic work and Catholic education in its programs and projects.

 Mighty Corporation supports the programs of Wong Chu King Foundation.


Tobacco farmers air plight

 / 12:18 AM April 23, 2017

Seldom heard in the cacophony surrounding government allegations of tax evasion by local tobacco firm Mighty Corp. is the side of the folks who will bear the brunt of the burden should the company close its doors.

Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar Dulay suggested last week that as early as May the tobacco firm might have to cease operations as a penalty for using “fake” tax stamps and thereby evading proper tax payments. This came on the heels of a series of revelations and accusations that Mighty, a homegrown firm that was founded soon after World War II, had been evading taxes mainly by producing bogus tax stamps, totaling P9.6 billion in back charges. By law, the Bureau of Internal Revenue is authorized to cancel the license to operate of companies found guilty of tax evasion.

But if Mighty’s factory in Bulacan is shuttered, the biggest number of people to be adversely affected by it would not be the Wongchuking family or its factory workers, sales force and other allied workers. The most deeply affected would be local tobacco farmers, most of them in the Ilocos. As well, farm workers hired on a seasonal basis following the tobacco farming cycle and numbering much more than the farmers themselves would lose their livelihood.

Mario Cabasal, national president of Naftac or the National Federation of Tobacco Farmers and Cooperatives, which counts a total membership of 55,000, says his fellow farmers are dreading the day Mighty would have to cease operations.

This is because, he says, Mighty is the only cigarette manufacturer that buys the “low-grade and reject” parts of tobacco plants from them. The other tobacco concern also buys along with Mighty the premium or “high-grade” tobacco leaves, he says, but only Mighty pays attention to the less desirable parts of the plant, which is mixed in to formulate its cigarettes. It’s the money they earn from selling the low-grade tobacco that gives farmers a comfortable edge and continued assurance of their livelihood.

The toll that a closure of Mighty, the second-largest tobacco concern in the country, would take is considerable.

Around 6,000 direct and indirect employees or workers of Mighty would lose their jobs; that means about 30,000 citizens adversely affected, including the workers’ families. The farmers themselves number about 55,000, and, counting their families, the total would come to a staggering 300,000.

Cabasal says he alone hires 10 agricultural workers to do field work, so if they and other workers hired by tobacco farms lose their livelihood, the toll could reach nearly a million.

But the issue has ramifications beyond those directly engaged in the tobacco industry. All those living in tobacco-producing provinces would likewise be affected, for if the affected farmers stop producing tobacco, then the provincial governments would no longer be entitled to a share of the “sin tax” imposed by Republic Act No. 7171.

“This is why we are appealing to President Duterte to address the issues being raised against Mighty,” says Cabasal. The firm’s owners have sought a compromise regarding their alleged tax liabilities, and there has been an apparent turnaround since the President said he was open to talks with Mighty to settle its case.

Instead there have been threats of closure and cancellation of Mighty’s license to operate, and even an order to arrest Alexander Wongchuking, the corporation’s president.

Perhaps those itching for a confrontation with—if not the closure of—Mighty, should consider that by shutting the door to any form of compromise, they will be hurting more people than a single family, firm, or community. Tobacco farming and the manufacture of tobacco products date back to the Spanish colonial times. And whatever one’s opinion may be of smoking and its toll on health and survival, the fact remains that cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products are still legal. In fact, by passing the Sin Tax Law, the state even sought to profit more from the industry, with a large chunk of the proceeds going to health programs.

Source: http://opinion.inquirer.net/103397/tobacco-farmers-air-plight

Mighty Corp. aids Southern Luzon through its CSR projects

In their visit to the south, Mighty aided in the renovation of historic churches that were heavily damaged during the 2013 earthquake.

These churches include the Diocesan Shrine of Immaculate Conception Church in Naic, Cavite and the Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Piat Church in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan.

The company’s foundation will take care of the churches’ roofs and ceilings.

“Churches are also symbols of strength and hope for Filipinos. To see a church survive earthquakes and other calamities can easily uplift the spirits of our people,” said the foundation’s General Manager.

“The devastation brought about by the recent Visayas earthquake has firmed up our advocacy to build more churches and strengthen the Filipino faith.”

“However, we also understand that this is not enough. We have to make sure that the design and structure of these buildings, particularly the old and existing ones, are safe and resistant to calamities such as earthquakes,”He added.

Mighty looks to help more people through is CSR projects. Hoping to raise the tobacco industry while also helping the economy grow, the company is finding various ways to help the country grow.

Mighty Corp. Implemented Five CSR Projects in North Luzon

In their recent expansion, Mighty Corp. implements various Corporate Social Responsibility projects designed to uplift the lives of local farmers up north.

Due to the implementation of the Sin Tax Law back in 2012, Mighty expanded and decided to help uplift the livelihood of millions of local tobacco farmers while also helping the local tobacco industry grow.

The company implemented various CSR Projects to aid the local farmers, their children, the environment, and the tobacco industry.

To help the tobacco industry, Mighty Corp. executed these actions as part of the CSR.

  1. Increased tobacco purchase – Mighty Corp. substantially increased their tobacco purchase in order to raise the income of local farmers significantly. This will also help Mighty compete in the tobacco industry on an equal playing field.
  2. Supports the use of organic Pesticides – Mighty claimed that this move will help reduce the reliance of millions of local farmers on the use of chemical-based pesticides. Mighty said that this will not only help the environment, but will also help the farmers increase their income.
  3. Scholarship Grants for the farmers’ children – Honoring their patriarch’s memory, Mighty’s foundation granted scholarships and educational assistance to children of local tobacco farmers.
  4. Provided tobacco dust to Fish Pond owners – Mighty also helped local fish pond owners fight predators that infest their ponds. The company provided them with tobacco dust, a fish pond conditioner, to help decrease the number of predators in their ponds.
  5. Absorbed Low-grade leaves – Mighty also purchased low-grade leaves from local farmers at very good prices. This helped the local farmers increase their income while also assuring them that their crops have a place on the local market.

Mighty Corp. Increases Purchase of Tobacco from Local Farmers

Mighty Corp. celebrates this year’s National Management Congress with an Outstanding Corporation Award.

Philcoman Research Institute (PCMRI) will be hosting this year’s National Management Congress in simple ceremonies, allocating the funds that will be saved to further research on more important issues.

“We opted to hold a simple rite so that funds and other resources we can save can be channeled to research and further studies of important issues in politics, economics, sociology and national security,” spokesperson of PCMRI said.

The PCMRI will honor the recepients of Outstanding Corporation of the year Award and the Outstanding Management Leadership Award of the year. They will also witness the oath-taking of its newest members.

Mighty Corporation Tips to Success

The Philippine tobacco industry is not a place for companies who lack strategy and a competitive drive. Many have tried, many have failed. Mostly due to family or financial problems.

Today, the Philippine tobacco industry amass up to P150 Billion per year. It serves as the top source of national government taxes for Philhealth, education and other social services.  However, only a few companies are part of the industry’s success and only a few enjoys its perks and privileges.

One of these firm companies is Mighty Corp, the country’s oldest Filipino-owned cigarette manufacturer. The company has been rising in the local market, increasing its market share from 3 percent in 2012 to nearly 20 percent in 2013.

So what made Mighty Corp. the cigarette-manufacturer monster it is today? The company finally shares the secrets behind their overflowing success.

1. Anticipate future trends and adjust.

Wongchuking said that when he was an assistant sales manager of their company from 1983 to 1985, he noticed the changing fashion in local smoking, as well as how the new tax system was killing the local cigarette segment. So the company decided to adjust to these factors. They developed Virginia-tobacco type cigarettes in 1985,and changed the company and brand name to “Mighty.”

2. Preservation is basically harmony.

Wongchuking stated that a little harmony between the families in a family business wouldn’t hurt. “If you have family harmony and you can work well together with family members and other people.”

3. Succession should be based on meritocracy.

Selecting the successor should be based on who is the most qualified. Same with the selection of executives and managers.

4. Perseverance.

Wongchuking stated that perseverance and a high-degree of patience is needed to attain success. “There should be a high degree of patience and perseverance. It is like courting a girl, a lot of patience is required.”

5. Faith.

As a devotee of Our Lady of Piat, the Virgin Mary shrine in Cagayan province, Wongchuking said that faith is needed in order to run a company with a proper mindset. “Faith is important to business or the profession, because faith gives you spiritual development and direction. Meaning, faith keeps you cool all the time, whatever happens to our business, profession or life.”

6. People.

Wongchuking praises the people behind Mighty Corp.’s success, which he describes as “very prudent and very dedicated.” He touched on the importance of taking care of your people in order to strengthen teamwork.

7. Filial piety.

The Wongchuking family believes in total obedience to parents and family elders. Alex Wongchuking said that one factor behind the company’s success is their firm belief in their 87-year-old mother, Nelia Dy Wongchuking.

8. Hard work.

Alex said that there is no substitute for hard work. According to him, he and his siblings go beyond the normal eight-hour shift per day. Even spending their weekends on work.

9. Innovation.

The company always seek to innovate. They modernized their manufacturing equipment for improved quality and increased yield production. Their father also bought a bigger factory in Malolos, Bulacan.

10. Philanthropy.

The company has always given something to the people as a way of remembering their hardworking, simple-living father, Wong Chu King. Their patriarch had no chance to finish high school or college. As a way of honoring him, the company’s foundation supports educational scholarships for three sets of beneficiaries: the kids of company employees, the kids of non-employees who are deserving students and need help, and also for children of rural tobacco farmers who want to study agriculture in college.

11. Humility.

Alex believes that humility is one factor to achieve success. “There should be an element of self-denial,” he said.

12. Focus.

He also believes on the importance of “concentrating on your core business.”

13. Have only one family.

Alex believes that being loyal and faithful to your spouse is also a factor to achieving success. “Having only one family is crucial for genuine success, because if one has too many families, that is a sure recipe for chaos and for nonstop family quarrels, “he said.

14. Destiny.

Alex explains his take on “destiny.” He responded, “Destiny is key to success, just like in the Bible. When God called Jeremiah to become a prophet, he said ‘No, I’m a shy person.’ But God said to him, ‘Before you were born, you were already destined to become a prophet.’ It became true, Jeremiah became a good prophet, naging madaldal (he became eloquent). Read the Bible, Jeremiah Chapter 1:4.”