Make use of seized medical supplies, DOJ proposes

March 30, 2020

JUSTICE Undersecretary Markk Perete yesterday disclosed that the government is seriously considering the distribution to frontline health workers of medical supplies like thermal scanners and face masks which were seized from hoarders and profiteers worth millions of pesos.

"Ordinarily, items confiscated from these operations are kept and preserved in the custody of law enforcers pending preliminary investigation. These confiscated items will later be used as evidence during prosecution."

"However, the shortage in supply of these confiscated medical items and the urgent necessity to make them available to hospital and medical facilities at the forefront of the fight against the novel coronarvirus prompted the Department to study the possibility of putting them to use even before the commencement of, and without jeopardizing, the prosecution of the criminal case against unscrupulous business owners," Perete said in a message to reporters.

Perete said that the Department of Justice is now coordinating with the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Bureau of Customs, and the Department of Health for the possible distribution of these medical items confiscated by law enforcers.

Since last week, the National Bureau of Investigation alone has confiscated over 1,500 thermal scanners and millions worth of facemasks from sellers who face chargers of hoarding, overpricing and price manipulation, among others. The Philippine National Police has also conducted similar operations.

The Customs Modernization and Tariffs Act and the Price Act allow seizure of confiscated items pending commencement of administrative and criminal proceedings.

"The Department (DOJ) is therefore coordinating with the relevant agencies to make sure that seizure proceedings can be had pursuant to the aforecited laws," Perete said.