BOC Seizes P150M Worth of Fake COVID Test Kits, Medicines

The Bureau of Customs on Friday, January 21, 2022, seized an estimated P150 million worth of fake COVID-19 antigen test kits, LianHua Chinese medicines, counterfeit face masks, and copyright-infringed branded goods in a Manila warehouse, leading also to the arrest of a Chinese national who was the owner of the said warehouse.

The team—composed of members of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service-Manila International Container Port (CIIS-MICP), National Bureau of Investigation-Special Action Unit (NBI-SAU), and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)—implemented Letter of Authority (LOA) Ref. No. 01-20-006-2022 with Mission Order Ref. No. 01-20-2022-046 issued and signed by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero.

CIIS-MICP chief Alvin Enciso said they had proper coordination with the local barangay and Philippine National Police (PNP) before the implementation of the LOA.

Upon arriving at the storage facility located at 555 Carlos Palanca, San Miguel, Manila City, the team explained the provisions and purpose of the LOA to the building administrator.

Further inspection found that the warehouse has P150 million worth of thousands of Clungene COVID-19 antigen test kits, counterfeit LianHua Chinese herbal medicines, and fake 3M N95 face masks.

The team also found intellectual property rights (IPR) infringed goods such as apparel from brands like Nike, Fila, Converse, Adidas, as well as Louis Vuitton and Gucci bags, wallets, phone accessories, and others.

Customs Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Raniel Ramiro lauded the efforts to curb the illegal smuggling of counterfeit COVID-19 test kits and medicines at a time when Filipinos are scrambling to access such tests and medical care.

“Definitely the owner of the warehouse will face the brunt of the law. This is not the first time and not the last time we will see these groups operating on our shores. Our job here is to make sure these don’t get into the local markets, and to stop any future attempts at selling counterfeit goods to our kababayans (fellowmen),” he said.

The Chinese national, owner of the warehouse, will face various cases in relation to the violation of Sec. 1401 (Unlawful Importation/Exportation) of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) Law and Section 1113 (Property Subject to Seizure and Forfeiture) paragraph (l) (5) of the CMTA law in relation to Sec. 118 (Prohibited Importation and Exportation) paragraph (e).

He is also in violation of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules and regulations.

The team temporarily padlocked and sealed the warehouse to secure the imported products stored inside until the completion of inventory of goods that will be conducted by Customs examiner and to be witnessed by CIIS, NBI, and PCG.

Ramiro said that the Bureau will further strengthen its border control capacities to stop the entry of illegal goods.