Fake face masks, respirators among items seized by BOC

Published April 23, 2021, 10:12 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

Everything gets faked nowadays, even face masks and respirators.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) reported on Friday, April 23 the confiscation of some P65 million worth of fake face masks, respirators, counterfeit luxury items, lotions, creams, cosmetics, and electronic items.

The BOC said the operation took place Thursday, April 22 at a storage facility in Binondo, Manila. Smuggled medical supplies, including the popular Aidelai face masks, which have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for distribution in the country, were found.

Alvin Enciso, chief of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service at the Manila International Container Port (CIIS-MICP), said that they are particularly worried about the smuggling of fake face masks and respirators.

“The public might fall victim to these smuggled goods. They might think they are protected by their face masks considering the brand of the fake ones are the same face masks that our health workers are using,” he noted.

Face masks became ubiquitous in the country at around this time last year due to local infections from the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19). On the other hand, respirators are key in keeping patients with severe COVID-19 infections alive.

Among the contraband seized were BL Creams, lotions, speakers, 3M face masks, KN95 face masks, respirators, and extension cords. Counterfeit products branded with Louis Vuitton, Nike, and Gucci were taken in by authorities as well.

Enciso said the importer will face a possible violation of Section 1400 of Republic Act (RA) 10863, also known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

“Bringing fake medical supplies into the country is particularly worrying. Using these items, which have not received an FDA approval, will put lives in peril. The bureau is responsible for stopping these activities, especially at a time like this,” he said.