PNP seizes over P15M hoarded alcohol, face masks so far

OVER P15 million worth of hoarded alcohol, face masks, hand sanitizers and even thermal scanners being sold as much as 10 times their regular price have been seized by agents of the Philippine National Police so far as PNP chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa vowed to apply the full force of the law on profiteers taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis, the Journal Group learned yesterday.

The PNP chief has ordered the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and all 17 Police Regional Offices to go after anybody who will resort to profiteering and hoarding of food supplies and other basic goods in the country as the government wages a major campaign to help prevent the spread of the highly-contagious COVID-19 virus.

Gen. Gamboa said that in coordination with the Department of Industry, PNP units in Metro Manila and across the country see 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.

He also again renewed his appeal 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.

Over the past two weeks, agents of the PNP-CIDG under Major Gen. Joel Napoleon M. Coronel and the National Capital Region Police Office headed by Maj. Gen. Debold M. Sinas have arrested dozens of people in Metro Manila found to be selling overpriced ethyl alcohol, hand sanitizers, thermal scanners, face masks and other protective equipment and hospital supplies.

Last week, combined CIDG and NCRPO operatives arrested 4 profiteers and seized over P12 million worth of overpriced alcohol and face masks during separate entrapment operations in Quezon and Pasay cities.

One of the accused identified as Chinese-Filipino citizen Hanshing Ng Chan was arrested by CIDG-NCR officers headed by Colonel Arnold Thomas C. Ibay during a sting at no. 9 Kitanlad Street in Barangay Doña Josefa, Quezon City which was triggered by a complaint that the accused is selling overpriced unlabeled alcohol in Metro Manila. Ibay said that his men conducted a validation thru Facebook and confirmed that the suspect was indeed selling a 1 liter-bottle of alcohol for P175 each.

During the entrapment operation, the 59-year old suspect was arrested after he received P4,000 in boodle money topped by a marked P500 bill from a poseur who bought him the overpriced alcohol. Recovered during the operation were 350 bottles of 1-liter bottle of unlabeled alcohol valued at P61,250.

12qawwCoronel also reported the arrest of retired Chinese businessman Wang Yongyi, marketing company supervisor Caroline Cheng Lee and their employee Bernadette Santos for selling overpriced surgical or disposable face masks online.

Last week, CIDG operatives also conducted over a dozen operations which led in the arrest of nearly 50  individuals and the confiscation of over P10 million worth of alcohol, hand sanitizers, surgical and face masks and other medical supplies being sold at a very high price by the accused.

Other arrests were made in Minglanilla, Cebu; Iloilo City; Carmona, Cavite, Bulacan and in Caloocan, Valenzuela, Pasay and Quezon cities.

Some of the suspects arrested were found to be using vehicles marked with the words ‘Ambulance’ in an apparent effort to easily pass thru Quarantine Control Points in the metropolis.

Many of the suspects were found to be selling a liter of alcohol for P290 each in contrast to the DTI proposed price of P47 to P60.

“We are continuing our campaign against hoarders and sellers of overpriced medical supplies as these individuals or groups continue to take advantage of the COVID-19 scare in the country,” said Coronel.