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Smuggler na, hoarder pa? BOC eyes charges vs Van, Evelyn Co’s Omnibus for P50M medical supply imports

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The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Sunday said the importer of P50 million worth of medical supplies and equipment will face charges if it cannot show proof that it paid duties and taxes to the government.

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

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The warehouses, which contained a total of P50 million worth of medical supplies and equipment, are owned by Omnibus Biomedical System, Inc. of business couple Van William and Evelyn Co. President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the NBI to investigate the couple.

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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 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 suspected Omnibus was 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.

This isn’t the first time the BOC-CIIS raided a store or warehouse selling overpriced medical supplies. The agency seized some P5 million worth of PPE and medical supplies from a store in Binondo, Manila and alleged medicines for COVID-19 in Singalong, Malate.

The authorities, through these joint operations, hope to send a clear message to all sellers hoarding and selling overpriced medical supplies in this time of emergency that the authorities will maximize its efforts to enforce law and not be tolerant of individuals and companies who are taking advantage of the pandemic situation.

Under RA Act 7581 or The Price Act and RA 11469 or The Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, profiteering or earning large and unfair profits, especially in this time of emergency is punishable by law.

(PNA)

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