Only few bottles of alcohol were left on the shelves after customers went panic buying in a store in Quezon City on March 11, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
NBI seizes overpriced thermal scanners, face masks and alcohol
Kristine Joy Patag ( - March 21, 2020 - 5:58pm

MANILA, Philippines  — Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation seized more than  P10 million worth of thermal scanners, face masks and alcohol—supplies crucial amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Rizal and Manila.

In a statement Friday, the NBI said its Special Action Unit, led by Director Eric Distor, seized 1,360 pieces of thermal scanners and 7,680 pieces of face masks from a store in Sta. Cruz, Manila in an operation on Thursday, March 20.

NBI said it received information that “the store was selling thermal scanners for P8,000 per piece, which is [eight] times higher than its normal price of P1,000.”

Distor said the store had signs saying “Out of stock thermal scanner” and “Out of stock any kind of mask” posted on its door. The bureau seized several boxes of thermal scanner and face masks in the storage.

They also arrested the store’s assistant manager, cashier and salesladies. They will face complaints of violation of Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act of the Philippines.

The store’s owner, Rudy Miranda, was not present during the operation but the NBI said he will face raps too.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday declared a nationwide state of calamity in the Philippines due to worsening spread of the novel coronavirus disease.

The following day, the departments of trade and industry, agriculture and health issued a joint memorandum ordering a price freeze on basic commodities until May 15.

Medicine and essential medical supplies covered by the price freeze include ethyl alcohol, respirator, face masks, sterile gloves, nebulizer and oxygen cannula.

Overpriced alcohol

The bureau’s Rizal District Office, led by lawyer Igmidio Congzon Jr., conducted a raid at Professional Skin Care Formula by Dr. Alvin in Taytay, Rizal after a “poseur customer” bought two gallons of alcohol priced P750 each from the store.

This price was also higher than what was dictated by the Department of Trade and Industry.

Eight gallons of isopropyl alcohol, sold in refill by small bottles, were seized at the store.

NBI said it will file complaints of violation of Price Act of the Philippines, as amended by RA 1063 or the Automatic Price Control and violation of the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009.

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