About 94,800 pirated video discs with an estimated market value of P14.22 million were confiscated by joint operatives of the national Optical Media Board, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Negros Occidental and the Bacolod City Police Office from three malls in the city yesterday.
They simultaneously raided 888 Chinatown Square mall at Gatuslao Street, Gaisano City and the Plazamart mall at Araneta Street from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Agent Manuel Mangubat, chief of the OMB Investigation and Operations Division, said their office received a letter from CIDG-Negros head Chief Insp. Cesar Paday-os regarding the rampant selling of pirated compact discs and video compact discs in Bacolod.
Mangubat said they were then ordered by OMB chairman Ronnie Rickets to conduct an operation in Bacolod in coordination with the BCPO and CIDG.
He stressed that the sale of pirated VCDs and CDs is a blatant violation of Section 19 of Republic Act 9239 or the Optical Media Board Act of 2003, which entails an imprisonment of at least three years but not more than six years, and a fine of not less than P500, 000 but not exceeding P 1.5 million at the discretion of the court.
An executive order had been signed before by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo which states that mall owners also have liabilities if their tenants are selling pirated VCDs, DVDs and fake signature goods like T-shirts, Mangubat said.
The confiscated items will be temporarily stored at the office of CIDG-Negros at the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office and will be destroyed within 15 days, Mangubat also said.
He admitted that piracy is also rampant in other provinces in the country, but the problem is that OMB has no Regional offices to monitor this.
A pirated VCD and DVD vendor, who requested anonymity, told the DAILY STAR that it is better being into piracy than being a thief.
Paday-os , however, emphasized that piracy is also theft in a way because piracy is stealing the intellectual property rights of the movie and music producers.
He also said that the buyers, manufacturers and sellers of pirated VCDs and DVDs have equal criminal liabilities although the penalties of the buyers are les compared to the owners and the manufacturers.
Aside from the violation of the Optical Media Board law, the owners of the VCDs and the DVDs may also face charges for violation of Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines or the immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions, and indecent shows act, Paday-os told the DAILY STAR.
This after they were also able to recover X-rated VCDs and DVDs during the raid.*APN