BOC eyes charges vs. importer of P50-M medical supplies

MANILA: The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Sunday said the importer of PHP50 million worth of medical supplies and equipment will face charges if it cannot show proof that it paid duties and taxes to the government.

The Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS), with assistance of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), raided a warehouses in Greenhills, San Juan City and in Malabon City on May 28.

The authorities seized PHP50 million worth of medical supplies and equipment inside the warehouses owned by Omnibus Biomedical System, Inc.

The joint team served the letter of authority and mission order signed by BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero to the unidentified Chinese nationals present in the warehouses.

Omnibus Biomedical System was tagged in a recent Senate inquiry for selling overpriced automatic extraction machines to the government and is under investigation for alleged smuggling operations.

Authorities also suspect that the company is involved in hoarding and selling of overpriced high-pressure stream sterilizer, blood bags, books, real-time quantitative thermal cycler and other medical supplies and equipment.

The BOC-CIIS earlier raided a store in Manila for selling overpriced medical supplies where they seized some PHP5 million worth of personal protective equipment, medicines and other medical supplies.

In a statement on Sunday, the BOC vowed to intensify its efforts to apprehend individuals and companies taking advantage of the pandemic situation.

Under the Republic Act 7581 (The Price Act) and RA 11469 (The Bayanihan to Heal As One Act), profiteering, especially in this time of emergency, is punishable by law.

Last Friday, the BOC-Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) destroyed 8.7 tons of illegally imported medicines, cosmetics, cigarettes and electronic goods in Trece Martires, Cavite.

The BOC used the Thermal Decomposer (Pyrolysis) Facility of the Integrated Waste Management Inc. (IWMI) to destroy the goods to make sure that the items will not be sold or made available in the market.

It said the goods are hazardous and unfit for consumption.

 (PNA/ Ferdinand Patinio/ SRNY/ RSP)

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