Manila movie pirates busted; 1.5 million pirated DVDs seized


MUMBAI: Manila pirated movie retailers and the organized crime syndicates behind them are reeling from a series of lightning raids unleashed by Manila authorities recently.
Officers from the Optical Media Board (OMB) supported by 80 officers from the Special Action Force (SAF), the primary special forces unit of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Motion Picture Association (MPA) representatives raided two infamous malls in Metro Manila, seizing an estimated 275,000 pirated DVDs.
The first raid at Makati Cinema Square resulted in the seizure of an estimated 25,000 pirated DVDs including hundreds DVDs containing child pornography. Two men were arrested and are currently assisting the OMB with inquiries. A later raid on over 25 outlets at Odeon Mall resulted in the seizure of an estimated 250,000 pirated DVDs including latest MPA member companies’ titles Night at the Museum 2, Angels and Demons and Terminator Salvation.
Raids continued targeting Manila’s infamous Quiapo area. Amid tight security, search warrants were obtained for over 20 locations. Due to the complexities and risks associated with securing and raiding the piracy hotspot a total of 100 officers from the SAF supported 30 OMB officers and MPA representatives to conduct the raids. The weeks of secret planning and tight security paid off as the raiding party’s motorcade of 16 unmarked vehicles reached within 100 meters of the target locations before being identified and blocked by vehicles controlled by the piracy syndicates. However while the syndicates had time to shutter and bolt many of the locations they did not have time to move any product out of the area, leaving tens of thousands of pirated DVDs on trestle tables along the street. OMB and SAF officers used bolt cutters and sledge hammers to break down the fortified doors of targeted locations and seized an estimated 1.5 million pirated DVDs.
In addition to MPA member companies’ movies, movies from the Philippines, Australia, Bollywood, Thailand, France and Korea were seized. Tens of thousands of pirated DVDs were boxed and ready to be shipped locally as well as overseas.
"Movie piracy is not a victimless crime. The organized crime syndicates behind the pirated DVDs hurt every Filipino and international film studio, cinema and home entertainment company and are involved in disgusting crimes like child pornography. Consumers should think about that before buying pirated DVDs. We commend the leadership of Chairman Eduardo Manzano and the professionalism and dedication of his team," said MPA president and managing director, Asia-Pacific Mike Ellis.
"Education and outreach are essential to reduce the public’s demand for pirated products. But we all know that the criminal gangs that damage the Philippines’ creative and associated distribution industries care only for their illicit profits. For organized crime we will bring down the full weight of our law enforcement system – like last week’s raids in Manila City and Quiapo – as many times as necessary until they get the message. We will not tolerate your crimes," said OMB chairman Eduardo Manzano.