PNP to crack down on black market sellers of essential meds

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday said all of its operating units are now mobilized to identify and arrest unscrupulous traders engaged in hoarding and other illegal practices on the sale of essential medicines amid soaring coronavirus cases.

“Selling these drugs outside the legitimate pharmacies can really be dangerous to the public. The Food and Drug Administration has already appealed to only buy medicines from FDA (Food Drug Administration)-approved outlets,” PNP chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos said.

He added that violators will face appropriate criminal charges according to existing FDA regulations as further aggravated by violations of law under a state of national health emergency.

Carlos said the PNP will investigate how people are being convinced to patronize these products coming from dubious entities that cannot present proof of business registration and permit to sell regulated products.

“It is imperative, too, that the PNP coordinates with other government agencies to find out to what extent these items are sold at a cheaper price compared to those in legitimate outlets,” he added.

This came as President Rodrigo Duterte called on the police to imprison and arrest black market sellers of these essential commodities.

He said the PNP can detain them for 34 hours for investigation and for summary inquest proceedings.

Bracing for Alert Level 4

Meanwhile, Carlos also said they are also preparing for a possible escalation to Alert Level 4, the second most stringent of the five-tier alert level system.

This came as more areas have been placed under a stricter Alert Level 3 starting Sunday — the provinces of Bataan, Batangas, Cagayan and Zambales, as well as Baguio City; Dagupan City; Santiago City, Isabela; Angeles City; Olongapo City; Lucena City; Naga City; Iloilo City and Lapu-lapu City.

“We will take the cue from the NCR (National Capital Region) which has already implemented Alert Level 3 starting Monday, January 3. So far, everything is working smoothly. We instructed our police personnel to be fully aware of the guidelines. If this won’t serve to curb the Covid cases in their area, then there is a bigger possibility that a stricter health protocol will be implemented in their LGU,” he added.

Under Alert Level 4, persons younger than 18 years old, older than 65, with comorbidities, and those who are pregnant must stay at home.

On-site capacity in establishments and government offices are also limited.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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