(Palawan News file photo)

The Philippine National Police (PNP) vowed to eradicate cigarette smuggling following reports that the government lost a staggering ₱25.5 billion in 2023 due to the illicit trade.

PNP chief Gen. Rommel Francisco Marbil said the battle against counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes is not just a fight for revenue or law enforcement.

“It is a crusade to safeguard the health of our people and ensure economic stability,” he said in a news release Sunday. “We will not rest until every illicit operation is dismantled, every counterfeit product seized, and every violator brought to justice.”

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) reported that the spread of counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes contributed to a 15.9 percent decline in revenues last year, equivalent to PHP25.5 billion.

From January to April this year, the BIR reported losses totaling PHP6.6 billion.

“I have directed all concerned police units to intensify the crackdown against fake and smuggled cigarettes,” he said. “Our intensified efforts will include heightened surveillance, stricter border controls, and coordinated operations with other law enforcement agencies.” (PNA)