MANILA, Philippines – Nine persons allegedly involved in the illegal sale of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test kits were arrested in an operation in Quezon City, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Wednesday.
Citing reports from the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, PNP chief General Debold Sinas said the following suspects were apprehended during an entrapment operation conducted in Barangay South Triangle on Tuesday:
- Marize Santiago, 28
- Joshua Raphael Bautista Ramirez, 21
- Zeus Catamora Jimena, 27
- John Vincent Almante Sumalabe, 23
- Rio Joyce Mingay Perando, 20
- Hermogenes Rivero Villordon, 28
- Jomari Pareja Estrada, 21
- John Marthy De Jesus Parentela, 22
- John Paolo Solibaga San Pedro, 28
The operation was launched by joint operatives of Quezon City District Field Unit (QCDFU) and 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing following verification from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The PNP said the operation stemmed from reports about unauthorized distribution and selling of unproven and illegally marketed medical devices.
These devices include Joinstar, Clungene rapid test kit, Innovita antibody test, Sanli disposable virus specimen, and Wondfo rapid test kit, which were placed for advertisement thru an online selling website managed by an unauthorized online seller of COVID 19 Rapid test kit.
The PNP said the entrapment operation was conducted after the suspects received payment from a police undercover who ordered online 30 boxes of Clungene Rapid Test Kit amounting to P204,000
Recovered from the suspects were assorted volumes of unauthorized rapid test kits, with an estimated market value of P30 million.
During the operation, police said suspects failed to show their license to operate (LTOP) or special permit to sell and distribute the test kits as required under FDA Circular No. 2020-016.
One of the suspects, Marize Santiago, was found to be linked to a Chinese online selling group that offers unauthorized rapid test kits for COVID-19.
The arrested persons were brought to the QCDFU office for appropriate documentation for the filing of Cases for Republic Act 9711 or Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009 in relation to FDA Circular No. 2020-016 or the prohibition of Online selling of FDA Certified COVID-19 Antibody Test Kit.
“This operation is part of our continued efforts to run after those who take advantage of the pandemic to earn money by illegally marketing medical devices through illegal online selling by unauthorized online sellers of Covid-19 rapid test kit,” Sinas said.