An estimated 150,000 counterfeit designer watches amounting to at least P1.5 billion were seized in during a joint operation conducted by the Bureau of Customs and National Bureau of Investigation, in coordination with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, in Tondo, Manila yesterday.
Thousands of fake Omega, Rado, Tag Heuer, Breitling, Calvin Klein, Apple, Nike, Lacoste, Ice, Adidas, Swatch, G-Shock, Seiko, 511, Gucci, Polo, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Swiss, Ferrari, Techno Marine, Diesel, Lee, Boss, Puma, and Guess watches, among others, were seized during the operation witnesses by brand representatives and the US Homeland Security.
According to NBI agent Alexander Bautista, the warehouse is owned by a certain Jones Hernandez Sy, also known as Herbert Sy, Robert Sy, and John Cruz Ang, and his wife Lily Desierto Sy.
Bautista said the NBI has been conducting surveillance activities on the warehouse with Lee Bumgarner Inc., Markspro, and other brand holders early as November 2015, after a complaint was received against the suspects.
NBI-Intellectual Property Rights Division supervising agent Atty. Terence Agustin said the couple is a primary player who imports and supplies fake watches. “We found delivery records showing this warehouse served as a distribution hub for Manila, stretching as far as Cebu, Davao, Zamboanga, and Agusan,” Agustin said.
The NBI and BoC are now hunting down the couple.
Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines Director General Josephine Santiago encouraged the intellectual property owners to file cases against the suspects.
“While we continue our progress in the IP enforcement in the country, we strongly encourage intellectual property owners to file cases and complaints as we continue to strengthen our efforts with different law enforcement agencies to catch these violators,” Santiago said.
The BoC has issued a Warrant of Seizure and Detention on the warehouse.
“Kung ano iyong nararapat gawin sa pagkakahuli nito ay lalapatan namin ng nararapat na gawain. So antayin na lang natin at nasa proseso pa rin tayo ng imbestigasyon…. Abangan ninyo ang magiging panuntunan,” BoC chief Alberto Lina said
The NBI is now pursuing forfeiture proceedings against the watches and will coordinate with the IPOPHIL for their appropriate destruction. (CHARINA CLARISSE L. ECHALUCE • ARGYLL CYRUS B. GEDUCOS)