Lockdown profiteers used e-commerce to hoard face masks, supplies: police

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 18 2020 01:57 PM | Updated as of Jun 18 2020 02:58 PM

Lockdown profiteers used e-commerce to hoard face masks, supplies: police 1
People fall in line to buy goods at a public market in Mandaluyong on April 14, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Profiteers used e-commerce to hoard medical supplies at the height of the coronavirus lockdown, police said Thursday before a congressional hearing on consumer protection online .

Some P54 million worth of supplies, including gloves, face masks, soaps and disinfectant that were sold at over 10 times the usual prices were confiscated since the lockdown that started in March, said Police Brig. Gen. Rhoderick Armamento, Deputy Director for Administration of the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

"Through online selling marami pa ring naloko na mga kababayan at marami rin nagsamantala dahil kailangan ang mga medical supplies na ito," Armamento said.

(Many of our fellowmen are taking advantage since there is a need for these medical supplies) 

Overpricing is the most common online transaction complaint from April to May, according to the Department of Trade and Industry.

Armamento presented the data during a House Committee on Trade and Industry hearing on a bill seeking added safeguards for consumers and merchants online. 

“It is inevitable whether we like it or not. This is the internet age and this economy will grow. At the end of the day we have to put order in the internet world,” said Valenzuela 1st District Rep. Wes Gatchalian, who is pushing for the measure.

The House Committee on Trade and Industry on Thursday approved the creation of the technical working group to craft the bill and to integrate suggestions provided by platforms, online payment firms and the police, among others.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue earlier mandated all online sellers to register their businesses by July 31. The data will help authorities regulate e-commerce in the country, the BIR earlier said.