Saturday, March 21, 2020
DTI, CIDG Raid Essential Product Hoarders in Manila and Caloocan
Following the heightened consumer protection alert of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in this State of calamity declared by President Duterte, the DTI - Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) of the Consumer Protection Group (CPG), led by FTEB Director Ronnel O. Abrenica, and the Anti-Fraud and Commercial Crimes Unit (AFCCU) of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), led by PCOL Bayani M. Razalan, conducted an Entrapment Operation on March 20, 2020 against medical establishments located in Bambang, Manila and Sangandaan, Caloocan. The raids were in response to reports or complaints received from several consumers and complaints through Facebook account against establishments from Bambang and Caloocan respectively for alleged overpricing and hoarding of various medical products.
Through a Buy-Bust operation, the establishment in Bambang was caught by DTI-CIDG in the act of selling 60ml Isopropyl Alcohol at PhP80.00 per bottle, which is in disobedience to the Price Freeze issued by the government. Subsequent to the declaration of Public Health Emergency, the Department of Health (DOH) issued a Price Freeze on emergency medicines and medical supplies for the information of the public and for the compliance of retailers concerned. There was also an indication of Hoarding, taking into consideration the presence of signages that there are no available stocks to make it appear that there is shortage. However, contrary to such representation, alcohol products are available for sale to buyers, not to mention the several boxes thereof or volume of stocks discovered by the raiding agencies. In other words, the establishment is trying to depict an “Artificial Shortage.”
In the Bambang operation, the DTI-CIDG recovered 684 pieces of 500ml bottle of Green Cross 40% solution, 72 pieces of 500ml Green Cross 70% solution, 336 pieces of 60ml bottle Green cross alcohol, and 288 pieces of 40ml Green Cross alcohol hand spray amounting to an estimated total of Php231,000.00. The operation ensued in Sangandaan, which led to the arrest of the suspects who were caught in the act of selling overpriced 70% Ethyl Alcohol and the seizure of 83 pcs 500ml Ethyl Alcohol being sold at Php 140.00 each and 48 pcs of 1-liter Ethyl Alcohol being sold at Php 250.00 each with an overall estimated value of Php 23,620.00. All these alcohol products were brought to CIDG-AFCCU for proper documentation and processing.
Meanwhile, the DTI will refer the matter to the Local Government Unit concerned for appropriate action, recommending preferably the closure and cancellation of the Business Permit issued in favor of the retailer subject of the joint operation. Administrative charges shall be filed by DTI while the criminal charges shall be filed by CIDG-AFCCU or jointly with DTI, for violation of Republic Act (RA) No. 7581 or the Price Act as amended by RA No.10623 and/or RA No.7394 of Consumer Act of the Philippines. The charges shall also refer to Proclamation No. 922 declaring a State of Public Health Emergency and Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) on Aggravating Circumstances for the imposition of the maximum penalty prescribed by applicable laws.
Secretary Ramon M. Lopez explains, “Price Freeze is strictly implemented, which is why the DTI warns the establishments against taking advantage of the situation, particularly the high demand of alcohol of such nature, by raising their prices in excess of the ceiling provided either under the Automatic Price Control provision of the Price Act or the Price Ceiling set by the DOH.”
Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo reiterates to the consuming public to always check the issued Price Freeze or Price Ceiling on Medical Supplies and report any erring offline or online establishments through our Consumer Care hotline.
For further inquiries, clarifications, and/or complaints, consumers may immediately connect through Consumer Care hotline at 1-DTI (1-384) or may email at email@example.com