More than 500,000 pirated optical discs were seized during a violent, multi-force raid in the Philippines, the Motion Picture Assn. announced today Aug. 2. The July 29 and July 30 raids were part of

More than 500,000 pirated optical discs were seized during a violent, multi-force raid in the Philippines, the Motion Picture Assn. announced today Aug. 2.

The July 29 and July 30 raids were part of an operation by the MPA, the Optical Media Board (OMB), Philippines National Police officers and representatives from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

Targeting the Ansari & Nasser building and a nearby traders market in Quiapo, Manila, 440 law enforcement officers and support personnel -- including 100 Special Action Force troops on hand to assure the security of the raiding team -- served 123 search warrants, seizing 524,350 discs and related equipment representing a loss of nearly $1 million to the pirates, the MPA says.

Quiapo has been described as a piracy stronghold where three major raids over the past eight months have resulted in total seizures of over 2.2 million pirated optical discs. Enforcement personnel conducting raids in the area are frequently subject to violent attacks from pirate traders, and last weekend’s operations were no exception. No injuries were recorded, however.

On April 14, a record 1,080,000 pirated optical discs valued at an estimated $2 million were seized in a raid conducted by more than 550 law enforcement officers and support personnel, and on December 8, 2004, more than 635,000 pirated optical discs were seized by more than 300 security personnel.

"In seizing more than two million pirated optical discs in eight months, the Optical Media Board has cost Quiapo's pirate syndicates millions of dollars, and has unequivocally raised the cost of conducting this business in the Philippines," says Mike Ellis, MPA senior VP/regional director, Asia-Pacific. "The next step for the Philippines must be to match these outstanding raids and seizures with comparable numbers of arrests and prosecutions. Only when pirates face the possibility of jail time will there be a realistic chance of deterrence."

The OMB estimates that piracy cost the entertainment industry in the Philippines nearly Php10 billion ($177.8 million) last year. The piracy rate in the Philippines is estimated at 89% of available product, among the highest in the world.