Gamboa vows full force vs hoarders, profiteers

PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa yesterday vowed to apply the full force of the law on anybody who will resort to profiteering and hoarding of food supplies and other basic goods as the government wages a major campaign to help prevent the spread of the highly-contagious COVID-19 virus.

“PNP units spearheaded by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, in coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry are seeing to it that all people who will take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to hoard goods and profit from their sale will be identified, arrested and prosecuted,” the PNP chief told the Journal Group.

Gen. Gamboa likewise appealed to the public to immediately report any acts of hoarding and selling of overpriced basic goods including alcohol and face masks to the PNP so that immediate actions can be undertaken by the police.

On Thursday last week, agents of the PNP-CIDG under Major Gen. Joel Napoleon M. Coronel, joined by representatives from the DTI arrested three persons for hoarding and selling overpriced alcohol products during separate anti-profiteering raids in Caloocan and Manila cities.

Maj. Gen. Coronel said his men are conducting follow-up operations to identify the ‘major players’ in hoarding and selling of overpriced goods in the market in line with their stepped-up operation against personalities taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to hoard basic goods including hygienic products and sell them for as much as 400 to 500 times.

Coronel said two of the suspects identified as Jeffrey Zapanta, a stockman, and Albert Mandap, a bartender, were arrested during an operation in Sangandaan, Caloocan City which was triggered by complaints that the two were selling online overpriced alcohol products.

He said  they discovered that the two were selling online 500ml Ethyl Alcohol for P140 each bottle compared to its standard retail price of P61 to P74.24 only.

Recovered from the possession of the two were 83 pieces of Gentle Care Ethyl Alcohol 500mL being sold at P140.00 and 48 pieces of Cucumber Fresh Ethyl Alcohol 1Liter being sold at P250 each bottle. The recovered pieces of evidence were valued at P23,620.

Coronel said the 3rd suspect identified as Evangeline Salazar Endozo was arrested while in the act of selling overpriced ethyl alcohol in a store in Bambang, Sta. Cruz, Manila.

He said the entrapment operation was launched amid complaints sent to the CIDG and the DTI regarding the presence of a medical supply store selling overpriced isopropyl alcohol in Sta. Cruz.

Coronel said that Endozo, a saleslady of the JKOS Medical Supplies and Equipment, Inc. was placed under arrest after she sold a 60ml bottle of Green Cross Alcohol for P80 which is much higher than the SRP set by the DTI and the Department of Health.

Recovered during the Sta. Cruz operation were 1,380 bottles of ethyl alcohol in 500ml, 60ml, and 40ml sizes and worth at least P231,000.

All three suspects are now under the custody of the PNP-CIDG in Camp Crame facing charges for violation of Republic Act 7581 ( Price Act) as amended by Republic Act 10623 and Republic Act 7394 ( Consumer Act of the Philippines), Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines (Aggravating Circumstances), DTI Memorandum Circular No.20-07 “Anti-Hoarding and  Anti-Panic Buying” and, Proclamation No. 922 issued by President Duterte.