FIVE Chinese nationals, accused of distributing fake cigarettes in Davao City, pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against them during their arraignment before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10 two months ago.

The accused Chun Qin Shi, Mei Qin Shi, Tian Pei Shi, Lian Zai Shi and Jian Qin Shi were earlier charged with six counts of trademark infringement, six counts of unfair competition, and six counts of false designation of origin and false description.

In a court order penned by Judge Retrina Fuentes on November 24, 2017, the court allows the waiver of the reading of the information and enters a plea of not guilty for the five accused, and scheduled prosecution’s exhibits on December 7.

The five had their legal counsel and an interpreter, Monica Kwok.

The six accused were arrested by the members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-Davao last July 21, following the 48 search warrants issued by the same court on several warehouses here.

Authorities conducted the raid following the complaint of the Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation, Incorporated on the proliferation of counterfeit cigarette products in the local market including Marlboro, More, Fortune, and Mark brands.