Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso on Thursday (Aug. 20) ordered the closure of several establishments selling beauty products with a label that says “Manila, Province of China.”
Bureau of Permits and Licensing Office (BPLO) Director Levi Facundo, who led the operation against the establishments, said they have received many complaints about products with that label. These were traced back to Sto. Cristo in Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown.
The erroneous labels count as misrepresentation and can be considered as a basis for the establishments’ automatic closure, he said.
“Wala pong Binondo sa China. Ang Binondo po nasa Maynila. Ito ay malaking insulto sa atin. Hindi tayo papayag (There is no Binondo in China. Binondo is in Manila. This is a big insult. We will not allow this),” Facundo said.
The city government closed at least four stalls. Among these are the administration office and warehouses where the beauty products are repacked.
Facundo said the warehouses were padlocked when they arrived so they were not able to inspect the establishment’s other products. The BPLO instead posted closure notices on its rolling steel doors.
The BPLO director said they have yet to identify the owners of the establishment and are still asking the Divisoria Mall management for more information.
Once identified, the owners will be asked to produce their permits from the Mayor’s office, the Manila Health Department, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Facundo also warned other businesses to check their products as they continue to inspect nearby businesses, because if there is misrepresentation on the labels, the sellers will be the ones held accountable.
Earlier, Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Partylist Rep. Jericho Nograles called for the blacklisting of the Ashley Shine Keratin Treatment Deep Repair, a Chinese hair care product that sported the erroneous label.
Nograles also identified the distributor of the product in the country as Elegant Fumes Beauty Products, Inc., a Binondo-based establishment reportedly owned by a Chinese national.
The solon also asked the FDA and the Department of Trade and Industry to investigate the issue.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque brushed off the mislabeling of the Philippine capital and said no one would believe that it is a province of China.
This is not the first time that the country was associated with the tag “province of China.”
The “Philippines province of China” geotag appeared on social media and earned flak from Filipinos online earlier this year.
In 2018, tarpaulins that said “Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China” were hung on several overpasses in Manila.
The Philippines and China still have territorial disputes over the West Philippine Sea, even after the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in the Philippines’ favor in 2016.