The Northern Police District (NPD) Director BGen. Ronaldo Ylagan announced on Friday the arrest of three citizens for manufacturing fake isopropyl alcohol. Along with the arrest of Bea Angela Acosta, 21, of Sta. Quiteria, Caloocan as well as Ronnel Almojuela, 24; and Christian Roa, 27, both from Valenzuela City, police confiscated P800,000 (approximately $15,000 USD) worth of counterfeited products containing methanol.
The raid by the NPD was made in conjunction with investigative agents from District Special Operation Unit, District Mobile Force Batallion, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Caloocan’s Business Permit and Licensing Office, Department of Trade and Industry and Bureau of Fire Protection after they received a tip about the illegal operation. After a successful online purchase, the FDA analyzed the products and confirmed that the purchased products contained methanol and not isopropyl alcohol as stated on the labels. Methanol is hazardous to health and results in negative health consequences and death.
During the raid the involved agencies confiscated 502 unlabeled gallons of methanol, 163 boxes containing 13 unlabeled gallons of alcohol, an electronic weighing scale, an electric mixer, two electric heat guns, several measuring cups, assorted stickers and paraphernalia used in labeling, 12 cellular phones, and 24 boxes of unregistered assorted cosmetic products.
Upon confirming that the suspects were not authorized or registered to produce alcohol and further FDA testing confirmed that the seized products were fake alcohol, the three suspects were charged under the Cybercrime Prevention Act, the FDA Act, and the Bayanihan Law.
The fake products containing methanol were intended to be used as hand-sanitizers, an in-demand product throughout the Philippines and the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both Director Ylagan and National Capital Region Police chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas praised the swift work of the agencies involved in the operation. Maj. General Sinas also expressed his dismay at the culprits who used the tragedy of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic to illegally profit at the expense of people’s health. He said, “It is devastating to see that despite the health crisis that we are facing, some still manage to take advantage of our people for profit. May I reiterate that we are in a battle against an unseen enemy,”
The agencies involved reminded the people that although their resources are stretched thin by the surge of COVID-19 patients, they would be vigilant in fettering out counterfeiters who put the health of consumers at risk. Each agency also took the occasion to warn citizens to be vigilant in buying any alcoholic beverages as well as products that purport to contain alcohol. At the top of their list was the purchase and use of hand-sanitizers that is in high demand and selling at premium prices. The Directors noted that this creates the perfect storm for counterfeit alcohol bootleggers.
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