P1.3-M counterfeit DVDs, CDs seized in GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/17 March) – Government agents destroyed some P1.3 million worth of pirated DVDs, CDs and pornographic materials that were seized in several raids earlier this week at the central public market here.

Lawyer Victor Luis Padilla, the Optical Media Board’s (OMB) legal services division head, said Thursday most of the counterfeit materials were confiscated by joint elements from the OMB and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) from various stalls inside the city’s main public market.

The biggest haul was recorded last Monday when at least two truckloads of pirated materials were found by the raiding team being displayed and sold by traders leasing stalls at the public market’s dry goods section, he said.

“It has become a big business and has thrived for quite some time already,” Padilla said.

The OMB official said they immediately destroyed the recovered items using a payloader following a briefing with city officials regarding the agency’s operations on Wednesday held at the city police headquarters in Camp Fermin Lira here.

He said City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio personally witnessed the destruction of the pirated materials, which included DVDs and CDs featuring local and foreign films, music albums and pornographic videos.

Padilla said they decided to launch the crackdown due to persistent reports regarding the proliferation of pirated materials in the area.

Through the NBI’s Sarangani District Office (Sardo) based in Alabel town, he said they were able to confirm the reports and the extent of the illegal activity in the area.

During the initial crackdown, which was led by at least three joint OMB and NBI teams, he said they found more than 50 retail stalls inside the public market that were selling pirated DVDs and CDs.

But he said they failed to cover all the targeted stalls as their owners were able to close them down and hastily leave the area before the raiding them reached them.

“There are still a lot of pirated materials there. I think we covered around 20 percent of the entire area,” he said.

Padilla said they are currently planning to launch more raids to help rid the area of pirated materials and eventually discourage local retailers and financiers from continuing with the illegal activity.

He said the NBI-Sardo and local police units initially signed up to become deputized agents of the OMB in the area.

“They will serve as our eyes and ears as well as our law enforcement arm here,” Padilla said.

Mayor Custodio lauded the anti-piracy operations launched by the OMB in the area and vowed to provide the necessary support from the local government to help sustain the campaign.

“We will initially make our own inquiry regarding this problem and help the OMB in the monitoring aspect,” she said.

The mayor added that she will also initiate an inquiry to determine why the city government’s employees assigned at the public market had failed to report or make any move to stop the illegal activity. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)