Personnel from the Philippine Coast Guard station in South Central Palawan recovered six master cases of smuggled cigarettes, valued at ₱120,000, nearly three days ago in Barangay Calasaguen, Brooke’s Point.

The Coast Guard team found the contraband after responding to a resident’s report of smuggled cigarettes hidden under a tarpaulin in the area.

Collaborating with the Coast Guard Intel Unit-Palawan and the Palawan Tobacco Institute (PTI), authorities formed a team to investigate the incident.

An investigation to ascertain the source of the smuggled goods and identify the individuals involved is now being conducted.

Industry data shows that cigarette volume in Palawan decreased significantly from 458.56 million sticks in 2017 to just 123.09 million sticks. This marks a 74% reduction, far exceeding the national average decline of 5% to 6%. As a result, Palawan lost approximately Php1.01 billion in excise taxes annually, calculated at Php60 per pack.

While registered and tax-compliant industry players face losses, illicit cigarette trade thrives in the region.

Illegally traded cigarettes are widespread across Bataraza, Brooke’s Point, Sofronio Espanola, Rizal, Quezon, Narra, Puerto Princesa, Roxas, San Vicente, and Taytay, as well as on the islands of Cuyo and Linapacan.

These illicit cigarettes are openly marketed and distributed throughout the province, disregarding existing laws and regulations, and showing blatant disrespect for both national and local authorities, as well as law enforcement officials.