Government agents raided a warehouse in Paranaque City and seized illegally imported items worth P9 million, including Chinese medicines believed to be used to treat persons infected with the coronavirus.
Alvin Enciso, chief of the Manila International Container Port - Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, led the raiding team at the facility situated along Sunrise Street in Barangay Tambo on Friday.
“We will need to do inventory, but most of the goods are Lianhua Qingwen which is used as medicine for COVID-19,” Enciso said.
The team also found various Chinese cigarettes, food items, and other illegally imported goods worth P9 million.
The CIIS men with the help of the National Bureau of Investigation - Special Action Unit conducted the raid based on the Letter of Authority (LOA) signed and issued by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
“The LOA was served and explained to the representatives of the warehouse,” Enciso said, adding that they already completed the hauling of the “prohibited goods” from the warehouse.
Guerrero, for his part, said they always make sure to follow the rules in every operation. “They (representatives) have a right to know the basis on which these goods are being seized.”
The seized goods are placed and secured at the Customs bureau premises, where an inventory will take place today (Monday).
Customs Deputy Commissioner Raniel Ramiro commended the CIIS team, saying it strengthens the bureau’s campaign against illegal smuggling and the proliferation of prohibited items in the country.
The Food and Drug Administration had approved the use of Lianhua Qingwen produced by one of China’s renowned Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) manufacturers, Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila lauded the move, saying it marks an important milestone in the entrance of traditional Chinese medicines in the country.
However, both the FDA and the Embassy reminded the public to only purchase and consume authentic products through authorized distributors.
Last year, authorities shut down a medical clinic, also situated in Paranaque City, operated by Chinese nationals reportedly treating COVID-19 patients.
Authorities are conducting a series of operations in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to go after unscrupulous individuals taking advantage of the pandemic.