By Jeffrey Damicog
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is prioritizing the release to hospitals in need the around P40 million worth of personal protective equipment (PPE)seized by law enforcement during various operations against hoarders and profiteers.
“Last week, DTI said na merong around P40 million worth of PPEs yung confiscated nationwide (the Department of Trade and Industry said there are around P40 million worth of PPEs confiscated nationwide),” said Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete on Saturday, May 30, during the Laging Handa media briefing.
“So inuuna ng ating National Prosecution Service yung forfeiture ng goods na ito para mai-forward sa ating mga hospitals (So the National Prosecution Service is prioritizing the forfeiture proceedings of these goods so these can be distributed to our hospitals),” he revealed.
The DOJ spokesman said last April 24 that an inter-agency circular was issued which, among others, directed the DOJ’s National Prosecution Service (NPS) to go ahead with forfeiture proceedings and no longer wait for the prosecution of cases.
“Ang talagang pakay natin dito ay magamit ng ating mga hospitals, especially public hospitals, yung mga PPEs habang dinidinig pa yung kaso (Our purpose is for our hospitals, especially the public hospitals, to be able to use the PPEs while cases are still being heard against the suspects who were arrested in the various operations),” he explained.
Prior distribution to hospitals, Perete assured that the PPEs will undergo inspection to determine if these are safe for use.
“Isa sa mga protocols na nakalagay roon sa circular kailangan i-inspect ng FDA yuong mga PPEs and mga medical equipment bago ito i-donate or ipamahagi sa ating mga hospitals (The circular states that one of the protocols is that the Food and Drug Administration will have to inspect the seized PPEs and medical equipment before being distributed to hospitals),” he cited.
The April 24 circular was issued jointly by the DOJ, DTI, Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Finance (DOF).
The circular states that these agencies will be involved in “the seizure of articles, whether locally produced or manufactured or imported or introduced into the Philippine market, which are held, hoarded, manipulated, sold, or otherwise disposed in violation of the Price Act or the Customs Modernization Act.”
It also issued guidelines for the immediate disposal of the seized goods.
Among its guidelines, inquest prosecutors with whom cases were filed against suspects have been directed to “cause the transfer of custody of confiscated goods to the Implementing Agency concerned in the most efficient and expeditious manner for subsequent formal seizure, forfeiture, and disposal.”
If a case has been filed in court, the circular stated that. “the handling prosecutor shall file the appropriate motion to effect such transfer of custody of goods to the appropriate Implementing Agency.”