Manila gov't to go after 'profiteers' amid novel coronavirus risk
Customers line up to buy face masks at medical stores on Bambang Street in Sta. Cruz, Manila after the Department of Health reported the first case of the novel coronavirus in the country.
The STAR/Krizjohn Rosales

Manila gov't to go after 'profiteers' amid novel coronavirus risk

Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - January 31, 2020 - 12:41pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila city government on Thursday warned business owners against overpricing face masks.

Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said the government would cancel the business permits of “profiteering” businesses and would also file criminal charges against them.

He said that “profiteering under existing laws or rules are prohibited.”

 “If you continue doing that, we will make you criminally liable," Moreno said over a recorded Facebook Live video.

“We guarantee that we will monitor and if we find anybody or anyone, we will — one: cancel their business permit; and two, we will go after you, and we will file cases against you,” he added.

The mayor gave the warning after the Department of Health confirmed the first case of novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV in the country.

The 38-year-old woman tested positive for novel coronavirus has been isolated at San Lazaro Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

San Lazaro is a government-funded special tertiary hospital that is a referral facility for infectious and communicable diseases.

In view of this, Moreno is calling on store owners in the nation’s capital to not take advantage of the novel coronavirus scare.

“Those stores in Manila, please, do not enrich yourselves economically and take advantage of the situation. ang virus po at ang corona ay walang pinipili — mayaman, mahirap, middle class (does not choose among the rich, the poor, middle class),” the mayor said.

“If you do that, you deprive somebody to acquire one because tinaasan niyo ang presyo. pag siya ang nahawa, the chances are mahahawa ka rin because you're part of the problem, you are not part of the solution,” he added.

(If you do that, you deprive somebody to acquire one because you hike prices. If he gets the virus, the chances are you would get the virus too because you’re part of the problem and not the solution)

Prices of face masks also shot up earlier in January when the Taal eruption brought ashfall to Batangas, Cavite, Laguna as well as Metro Manila

On Friday morning, the novel coronavirus scare also sparked long queues along Bambang Street in Sta. Cruz, Manila, known for medical supplies stores. People flocked these medical stores as they await opening.

Meanwhile, Moreno also announced that he would provide 500,000 masks to elementary to college students in Manila.

The city government also donated 6,200 face masks to San Lazaro Hospital, where the first confirmed case of 2019-nCoV is confined in isolation.

Hospital director Edmund Lopez assured the public that all their patients and employees are safe and properly protected.

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