Dominguez denies Faeldon caught accepting bribes from cigar firm

by Chino S. Leyco

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III denied reports that he caught Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon accepting bribes to harass a local cigarette manufacturing firm.

According to Dominguez, he fully supports Faeldon in his ongoing campaign against unscrupulous cigarette companies engaged in the proliferation of fake tax stamps in the country.

“The Bureau of Customs, headed by Nick Faeldon, [and] in cooperation with the BIR [Bureau of Internal Revenue] yielded us for the first time hard evidence on Mighty’s violation of the law,” Dominguez told reporters, referring to Bulancan-based Mighty Corp.

“I support Faeldon 100 percent,” Dominguez said when asked if he has full trust and confidence in the Customs chief.

On Friday, reports circulated that Dominguez allegedly caught Faeldon accepting bribes from a multinational cigarette company to harass a homegrown tobacco manufacturer.

In his remarks at the recent general membership meeting of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Dominguez lauded Faeldon and BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay for their efforts to catch those companies engaged in illicit trade.


The petition for preliminary injunction filed by cigarette firm Mighty Corp. against the Bureau of Customs (BOC) was raffled anew yesterday after the original judge voluntarily inhibited from handling the case.

The civil case has been assigned to the sala of Judge Noli Diaz of Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 39.

Judge Tita Bughao Alisuag of RTC Branch 1 inhibited herself from handling the case due to the administrative complaint filed against her by the BOC at the Supreme Court.

In a complaint filed on March 13, the BOC accused Judge Alisuag of gross ignorance of the law for issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of the embattled cigarette firm.

“This Court’s Presiding Judge, who have been libeled and pilloried before the public’s eye as corrupt with threat of ‘tokhang,’ hereby voluntary recuse from handling this case,” the two-page order read. (With a report from Cris G. Odronia)





By: Gina Mape

APRUBADO kay dating Pangulo at ngayo ay Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada ang P15-B tax deal na inaalok ng Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte sa mga may-ari ng Mighty Corporation, gumagawa ng Mighty Cigarrette.

Ayon kay Estrada, walang masama sa alok ni Pangulong Duterte sa may-ari ng Mighty Corporation na magbayad na lang ng P3 bilyo,  na kalauna’y tinaas niya sa P15 bilyon kapalit ng mga kasong kriminal na kinakaharap nito.

Sinabi ni Estrada na maging siya ay gagawin niya ito sa Maynila upang masingil ang mga kumpanyang hindi nagbabayad ng buwis upang makalipon ng pondo para sa mga programang pang-mahirap ng pamahalaang lungsod.

Why not? Put it to good use. People will benefit from it,” sagot ng alkalde ng Maynila nang tanungin kung gagayahin niya rin ang desisyong ito ni Duterte na pagbayarin na lang si Alex Wongchuking, ang may-ari ng Mighty Corporation na nahaharap sa bilyun-bilyong pisong tax evasion at economic sabotage na mga kaso.

Ligal naman aniya ito, ani Estrada, at malaking pakinabang pa nga sa gobyerno upang makalikom ng sapat na pondo para sa mga programa nito, partikular na para sa mahihirap.

Sa Maynila, marami aniya ang mahihirap, ayon sa pag-aaral ng University of the Philippines (UP) na nagsabing isa ang Maynila sa mga lungsod na may mataas na unemployment rate.

Una nang sinabi ni Duterte na payag siyang ipawalang-sala si Wongchuking pati ang kapatid nitong si Caesar kapag nagbayad sila ng P3 bilyon, na kalauna’y tinaas niya sa P15 bilyon sa payo na rin ni Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.

Ayon sa Pangulo, gagamitin ng pamahalaan ang perang ibabayad ng Mighty sa pagpapaayos ng mga ospital sa Sulu, Basilan, at Maynila.



Speaker Backs Duterte’s Call for Tax Settlements

by Ellson Quismorio

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has virtually backed President Duterte’s preference to accept out-of-court settlements for big and potentially long and arduous tax cases involving major companies.

According to Alvarez, Duterte himself should be allowed to decide on the matter.

It should be noted that the President has acknowledged that he has yet to get Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Caesar Dulay and Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez on board with his idea.

“That’s the Executive’s decision,” Alvarez said when asked if Dulay and Dominguez should accept Duterte’s proposal, which is born out of practicality.

Alvarez and Duterte serve as secretary-general and chairman, respectively, of ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). The two Dabawenyos have also been friends for two decades.

Duterte’s favoring of reasonable tax case compromises first became headline when he said that embattled tobacco company, Mighty Corp. could just pay P3 billion to the government to settle its tax woes.

Authorities had just filed a P9.6-billion tax evasion case against Mighty for its alleged use of fake excise tax stamps on its cigarette products.

Duterte has since expanded his statements to cover similar cases in the future, pending the concurrence of the BIR — the filer of the case — and the DOF.

And based on his statement, Alvarez seems to have no problem with it.


Na-inspire: Erap to copy Digong’s Mighty out-of-court settlement offer

Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada sees the wisdom in President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to offer a P3-billion – and later increased to P15 billion – out-of-court settlement with tobacco firm Mighty Corp.

In fact, Estrada said he is also amenable to doing the same thing in Manila to secure needed funds from huge companies and corporations that have been cheating the government in tax payments.

“Why not? Put it to good use. People will benefit from it,” the Manila mayor pointed out when asked if he would replicate Duterte’s settlement offer with Mighty Corp. owner Alex Wongchuking, who is facing multi-billion-peso tax evasion and economic sabotage charges.

Estrada said the out-of-court deal being proposed by Duterte is permitted under the law and would even be advantageous to the government in compelling big-time tax evaders pay for their tax dues.

The money could then be used to fund anti-poverty programs.

“E, saan mo ilalagay ‘yung pera? Kaysa mabulsa ng iba? Because you will always think as a leader, always put the greater good of the greatest (sic) number. Sino ang greatest number? ‘Yung mahihirap,” stressed the former president.



Duterte open to compromise with big-time tax evaders

by Genalyn D. Kabiling

President Duterte is open to forging “reasonable” compromises with big-time tax evaders rather than be embroiled in a long court battle.

The President, speaking to an assembly of Filipino-Chinese businessmen in Pasay City, said he prefers to get the revenues now than wait for years in court litigation.

“The law allows a compromise and I will allow compromises rather than the other party filing a case, from the Court of Tax Appeals, to the Supreme (Court), to the Court of Appeals. It will be decided 10 years from now,” he said.

“I need the money now, not when I’m not around. But it must be a reasonable one, for those big tax cases,” he added.

The President, however, said he has yet to convince Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Bureau of Internal Revenue chief Caesar Dulay to allow settlements of big tax evasion cases.

“It is not unlawful for me to suggest this because rather than you know, if you choose to fight it in court, and it is a very slow process, I would rather that a compromise,” he said.

“No particular party, maski sino yan. We can enter into a compromise. I’m suggesting it so I can use the money,” he added.

Duterte recalled that he was willing to settle the tax case of Mighty Corp. for P3 billion so he could upgrade public hospitals in some parts of Mindanao and Metro Manila. But he said Dominguez opposed his proposal since the tobacco firm must pay at least P9 billion in taxes and fines.

The BIR recently filed a P9.56-billion tax evasion case against Mighty Corp. following the discovery of fake stamps on tobacco products.

Meantime, the President called on the Filipino-businessmen to pay the right taxes and shun any extortion attempt by revenue collectors.


Mighty tax deal legal – Panelo

TWO Malacañang officials were effectively rebuffed by the stand of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel (CPLC) Salvador Panelo that compromises in tax cases like that of Mighty Corporation violate no law and are therefore legal.

Panelo said it is clear that the law allows compromises in tax cases and President Rodrigo Duterte would not violate the law.


According to Panelo, Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Cesar Dulay should remember that President Duterte is a lawyer of high caliber and knows the law.

“The law allows compromises on tax cases. Always remember PRRD is a lawyer of caliber, he knows his law,” Panelo said.

Panelo also made it clear that a tax case must first reach the court before any compromise can be discussed.

Panelo also believes that Dominguez and Dulay can change their position and agree to a compromise with Mighty Corp. if the President presses the matter.

“But first the case should be filed in the court before any compromise is discussed. But the President is correct, compromise (in tax cases) is allowed by law, it is legal,” Panelo stressed.

Duterte earlier said the reason why he wants Dominguez and Dulay to agree to a compromise deal as long as it is reasonable rather than go through the lengthy process of litigation and running after tax evaders.

President Duterte recently said he planned to accept a P3-billion compromise agreement with Mighty Corp., which faces a P9.5-billion tax evasion case at the Department of Justice.

The President fears it would take a decade to fight tax cases in court instead of entering into a compromise and already benefit from the payment the government would get.

“No. Because compromise is allowed by law. And you have to remember that the President is a lawyer,” said Sec. Panelo when asked if the President would violate the law if he pushed for compromises in tax cases like that with Mighty Corporation.

Mighty Corps’ Secrets to Success

Many people strive for success yet they don’t know where to start. Many people aim high yet they don’t know how to get there. Luckily, one of the most successful companies in the local tobacco industry is here to give those people the ways and practices of a successful company.

Mighty Corp. has been part of the local tobacco industry for a very long time. It is labeled as one of the oldest Filipino-owned cigarette manufacturer and has been known for its steady climb towards the top of the ladder known as the tobacco industry. The company has increased its market share from 3 percent in 2012 to 20 percent in 2013.

So how did they do it?

In an interview with The Philippine Star, Alex Wongchuking, President of Mighty Corp., shares his secrets towards the company’s overflowing success.

The Mindset

Alex shares practical ways and mindsets that a person seeking success should have. One of these is anticipate future trends and adjust. When he was an assistant sales manager of their company from 1983 to 1985, he noticed 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 and adapt. They developed Virginia-tobacco type cigarettes in 1985, and changed the company and brand name to “Mighty.”

Next is perseverance. Alex shared attaining success is much like courting a woman, you need a high-degree of patience and perseverance.

“There should be a high degree of patience and perseverance. It is like courting a girl, a lot of patience is required.”

There is no substitute for hard work. In his interview, he said that he and his siblings go beyond the eight-hour-per-day shift. Even going as far as to working every Saturdays and Sundays.

Next is innovation. The company always seek to innovate and develop new ways to improve the quality of their product. One of these is by modernizing their manufacturing equipment for improved quality and increased yield production.

Last is focus. Alex believes that maintaining a high degree of focus is another factor in achieving success.

The Attitude

Alex also shared the proper attitude a successful man has or should have. One of these is preservation. It is important to preserve harmony within your family, especially when it’s a family business.

“If you have family harmony and you can work well together with family members and other people.”

He also shared the ways of determining the successor. He touched on how the selection of the successor should be the one who is most qualified. Even the selection of other choices like executives and managers should be based on merits.

Another key factor is 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.”

Alex also said that treating your people right will help establish a stronger bond and will strengthen teamwork.

A specific practice that the Wongchuking family does is filial piety. This is total obedience to parents and family elders. Aside from their patriarch, the company puts their trust on the guidance of their 87-year-old mother, Nelia Dy Wongchuking.

Next is Philanthropy. Since the family’s patriarch had no chance to finish high school and college, the company honors his memory by supporting 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.

He also believes in humility.  “There should be an element of self-denial,” he said.

He also stated that being loyal and faithful to your spouse is another factor to achieve 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.

When asked about “destiny”, Alex 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.”

Case filed to fake Mighty Corp cigarettes sellers in Cebu

Eleven boxes of fake cigarettes sold in barangays Taboan and Ermita in Cebu City were confiscated by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI-7).

Three suspects identified as Carissaa Mae Juanico, Glenn Squib and Kevin Takiao were arrested in a buy bust operation last Feb. 24.

The three were charged with violation of Republic Act 8293 or the Trademark Infringement and Unfair Competition law for selling fake Mighty cigarettes.

The case was filed before Branch 11 of the Cebu City Regional Trial court. RTC Judge Ramon Daomilaas recommended P40,000 bail for each suspect.

NBI-7 acted based on a complaint filed by Mighty Corp. manufacturer of Mighty cigarette brands.

Smuggled fake Mighty Corp cigarettes sold in Cebu

Eleven boxes of fake cigarettes sold in barangays Taboan and Ermita in Cebu City were confiscated by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI-7).

Three suspects identified as Carissaa Mae Juanico, Glenn Squib and Kevin Takiao were arrested in a buy bust operation last Feb. 24.

The three were charged with violation of Republic Act 8293 or the Trademark Infringement and Unfair Competition law for selling fake Mighty cigarettes.

The case was filed before Branch 11 of the Cebu City Regional Trial court. RTC Judge Ramon Daomilaas recommended P40,000 bail for each suspect.

NBI-7 acted based on a complaint filed by Mighty Corp. manufacturer of Mighty cigarette brands.

Market share of Bulacan based Mighty Corp increase for the year

Bulacan-based Mighty Corp. said Thursday it expects to widen its market share in the tobacco industry, as it continues to supply quality but cheaper alternatives to expensive cigarette brands.

Mighty executive vice-president Oscar Barrientos said the increase in market share was due to the shift of the local market from premium brands to cheaper alternatives.

“Mighty’s market share is rising because of our very competitive price as well as quality of our cigarettes,” Barrientos said.

“Consumers are shifting from premium to low-premium brands after the new excise tax law,” he said.

Barrientos said Mighty’s market share grew from a range of 3 to 5 percent in 2012 to a range of 10 percent to 12 percent in 2013.

“For this year, we’re targeting to expand it by two percentage points, or to 12 percent to 14 percent,” Barrientos said.

He said the size of the tobacco market was more than 100 billion sticks annually and was continuously growing despite the increase in cigarette prices.

Barrientos said the company was now selling the Mighty brand for P26 to P27 a pack, Marvel brand for P25 to P26 a pack, which were both higher by P5 from last year’s retail price.

He said the adjustment reflected the P5 increase in excise tax rate this year. He said some retailers were still selling Mighty brand at P23 per pack and Marvel brand P18.4 per pack.