Retailers caught in a bind as government cracks down on fake cigarette stamps

MANILA — A supermarket group wants authorities to issue clear guidelines, as its members look for ways to cooperate with the government in its ongoing crackdown against cigarette products carrying fake tax stamps.

Steven Cua, president of the Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association (PASA), said association members are becoming "innocent victims" in the government's ongoing efforts against unscrupulous tobacco manufacturers.

On Wednesday, three retailers in Manila were caught possessing cigarettes without the requisite internal revenue stamps. They have been charged for non-payment of excise taxes by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

"Right now, the government has not issued any pronouncement on how to go about the alleged illicit Mighty products," Cua said in an interview. "Until there's an instruction to stop selling from the government, it's going to be business as usual."