Cebu News

Online seller nabbed, P3.4 million test kits seized

Iris Hazel M. Mascardo - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  At least P3.4 million worth of rapid test kits for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) sold online were confiscated by the operatives of National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas during an entrapment operation in Barangay Capitol Site, Cebu City yesterday.

The operation resulted in the arrest of Jemuen M. Cenon, 30, a native of Tagum City, Davao del Norte. Cenon was assigned in Cebu City since January this year as representative of Max Med Pharmaceutical Trading.

Agent Wenceslao Galendez Jr. said Cenon’s arrest was a collaborative effort of NBI-7 and the Philippine Air Force. He was under surveillance for one week after he posted online offering to sell rapid test kits without authority from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

During his arrest, Cenon failed to show any document from FDA that he was authorized to sell rapid test kits.

"So far, wala man siyay dokumento na maipakita nga authorize sila,” Galendez said.

Even if he was authorized, Cenon was not also supposed to sell it to anyone online.

“Kung authorize man sad gali sila dapat dili sila mamaligya to anybody nga basta-basta nalang, so they should sell it to government who is authorized to conduct testing, dapat didto sila magbaligya, di dapat sila magbaligya-baligya online sa bisag kinsa nalang," Galendez explained.

Cenon, however, was able to present business permit from the Department of Trade and Industry and certificate of registration from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). The business registration documents were all issued in Tagum City.

Under the FDA circular, test kits should be sold only to people authorized by government to conduct rapid testing. Cenon reportedly claimed that the kits were sourced from China and have prior approval from FDA. Galendez, however, said they are still verifying it.

In a separate interview, Cenon said their company’s head office is located in Davao City. They also have an office in Manila.

Cenon said he had been in Cebu City since January as representative of the company. He admitted that he made a mistake in selling their product online.

“It was an honest mistake... it just so happen na may violation lang talaga kami doon sa online selling," Cenon told reporters.

He said his supposed transaction to the NBI operatives was his first online transaction. Seized from him were 134 boxes of rapid test kits. Each box costs P26,000.

He will be charged for violation of the Food and Drugs Act of 2009 of RA 9711 in relation to FDA circular that prohibits the selling of rapid test kits online.  FPL (FREEMAN)

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