A lawmaker yesterday urged the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police anti-cybercrime unit to go after online sellers of fake Covid-19 related products.
Rep. Precious Castelo (Quezon City) said the bogus sellers, whom she described as “vultures”, take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic by victimizing unsuspecting buyers.
“They peddle their wares on the Internet, and so many of our countrymen, unfortunately, fall victim to these scammers,” she said.
She noted that law enforcement agencies have enough authority under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act to arrest sellers of fake and substandard products, hoarders, price manipulators, profiteers, and other fraudsters.
She cited cases of people selling online Covid-19 test kits that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, poor-quality alcohol, face masks, and other personal protective equipment items.
“These online sellers have no accountability because they are not registered with concerned agencies, like the Department of Trade and Industry and the Bureau of Internal Revenue,” she said.
“So it should not be hard for the NBI and the PNP and even local government units to stop their trade, apprehend them, and file charges against them,” she added.
She recommended that these fraudulent sellers must be blacklisted on the Internet and their posts and advertisements taken down.
They cannot pursue their illegal activities if they cannot access the Internet, which ironically has become an enabler of their scams, she said.
She also advised the public not to buy so-called rapid Covid-19 test kits from unreliable sources and not to use them on their own.
“These should be purchased from a licensed hospital or drugstore through a doctor’s prescription. A test should be administered and interpreted by a trained health professional,” she said.
National Policy Against Covid-19 deputy chief implementer, Vivencio Dizon, yesterday said the supply of test kits will be stable starting next week.
He said the first batch of test kits that the government procured will arrive this weekend.
“The Department of Budget and Management committed that the first batch of our bulk supply of test kits will arrive this weekend. By next week, we will have steady supply,” Dizon said, adding that the lack of test kit supplies in the past months has been a challenge for the government to ensure continuous testing activities.*PNA
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