The Bureau of Customs last week seized P9 million worth of smuggled Chinese goods, including medicine marketed as a cure for Covid19.
The Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) raiding team together with operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Special Action Unit, found illegally imported Chinese drug Lianhua Qingwen as well as cigarettes and food items stored in a warehouse on Sunrise Street in Brgy. Tambo, Parañaque last Friday.
“We will need to do an inventory, but most of the goods are Lianhua Qingwen, which is used as medicine for Covid19,” said CIIS chief Alvin Enciso.
The BoC-CIIS and the NBI Special Action Unit acted on a letter of authority signed by Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, who said that the document was served and explained to the representatives of the warehouse.
Customs deputy commissioner Raniel Ramiro said that the operation bolstered the bureau’s fight against smuggling and the influx of illegal products in the country.
Just last year, Lianhua Qingwen, produced by drug manufacturer Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., was given approval by the Food and Drug Administration. However, the regulatory body cautioned the public to buy only authentic products and from authorized distributors.
FDA director general Eric Domingo clarified as well that this particular medicine was only used to treat respiratory ailments, not Covid19 specifically. He added that this should only be prescribed by a licensed physician.
News of an illegal vaccine trade have been surfacing since last month. Reports say that there is a black market for unauthorized pharmaceuticals and Covid19 vaccines, particularly in the online gambling industry where many Chinese citizens work as Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO).
Previously, President Rodrigo Duterte’s own security team had been lambasted for allegedly inoculating themselves with smuggled Sinopharm vaccines. Defense secretary had backed up the claim that these jabs were indeed smuggled, but said that it was justified since these men kept the chief executive safe.