A neophyte solon is urging law enforcers to immediately arrest profiteers and hoarders of face masks, alcohol and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Quezon City Rep. Precious Castelo expressed disappointment over the inhumane activities of unscrupulous merchants who are reportedly overpricing and hoarding medical supplies while the country is battling the coronavirus or COVID-19.
Castelo made the appeal in the wake of the complaint of the 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,” she said.
Castelo said it should be easy for the concerned government agencies to identify traders overpricing PPEs.
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.
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 thatsuch products 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 even at normal prices would be a long process under the procurement law.