Arrest of alcohol, PPE profiteers urged

A HOUSE leader on Tuesday urged authorities to arrest unscrupulous merchants who are reportedly overpricing and hoarding face masks, alcohol and personal protective equipment (PPE).

​House Assistant Minority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Precious Castelo, a vice chairperson of the House committee on Metro Manila development, made the appeal in the wake of the complaint of Lung Center of the Philippines officials that a piece of PPE that usually costs P500 was selling for P3,000 in the black market.

“Overpricing, profiteering and hoarding at this time of public health emergency, which President Duterte has declared, are illegal acts. The authorities should arrest profiteers and hoarders, and seize their products,” said Castelo.

​Castelo said it should be easy for the concerned government agencies to identify traders overpricing PPE.

​“The Department of Trade and Industry, the Bureau of Customs and local government units should be able to trace them, whether they are local manufacturers or importers,” said Castelo.

​She added that based on the complaint of Lung Center officials, it was clear that the protective wear that they wanted to procure to minimize exposure of hospital personnel to coronavirus “was available, but only at six times its original price.”

​Castelo pointed out that such product could be seized, forfeited in favor of the government and donated to hospitals that need them.

​Aside from Lung Center, the Philippine General Hospital has complained of lack of PPE like protective suits.

The hospitals have appealed for donations, since they could not afford overpriced protective gear and procuring supplies.

According to Lung Center officials, their supply of PPE was good only up to last Monday night.