The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has confiscated P244 million-worth of smuggled, unregistered or counterfeit personal protective equipment (PPEs) and other medical supplies since March 25 up to May 31, 2020.
This is part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to stop the illegal importation, storage and hoarding of goods deemed essential to the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The BOC said that while it has released various regulations to facilitate and speed up the process of importing PPEs and other medical supplies, some unscrupulous traders have taken advantage of the coronavirus-induced crisis to smuggle such items into the country.
Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said he has issued 10 Letters of Authority covering the inspection of persons and premises suspected of selling or storing smuggled and/or unregistered medicines and equipment from March 25 to May 31 this year.
“Moreover, profiling/targeting of imported shipments suspected to contain contraband and other smuggled articles were intensified. As a result a total of P244.4 million-worth of smuggled/counterfeit/unregistered PPE and medicines were seized by the Bureau,” Guerrero said.
Last May 1, various pieces of PPEs and Chinese medicines supposed to cure COVID-19 and estimated to cost around P70 million were seized by the BOC in a warehouse in Singalong, Manila.
Guerrero said in his report that the medicines, which were contained in about 360 boxes, were not registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).