The Bureau of Customs says it has confiscated P244 million worth of smuggled, unregistered or counterfeit personal protective equipment and other medical supplies from March 25 to May 31, 2020.
The agency says this was part of its efforts to stop the illegal importation, storage, and hoarding of supplies essential for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, the bureau said while it had released various regulations to speed up the importation of medical supplies, some unscrupulous traders had taken advantage of the coronavirus crisis to smuggle those items into the country.
Advice to the stranded
The Transport department has advised stranded individuals not to risk going to ports or airports without a confirmed booking after the continuing accumulation of people stranded in the country’s gateways.
“People should not go to the ports and airports if they don’t have a ticket. This is for their own safety and well-being,” Transport Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran said in a message on Friday.
She made the statement after Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade visited the Manila North Harbor on Thursday and ordered the Philippine Ports Authority to provide better accommodations to the 203 stranded people awaiting passage to different provinces.
Beds for the sick
Two-hundred wooden beds made by workers of the Department of Public Works and Highways are now being used by COVID-19 patients in Cebu City.
Public Works Secretary Mark Villar says the beds were fabricated by the department’s Cebu City District Engineering Office. This was after a meeting by District Engineer Florida Nuñez with local government officials who expressed their need for beds in the quarantine facilities.
“With the help of skilled workers from the Maintenance Section, Nuñez reported that 100 completed beds were turned over to the Zapatera Elementary School, 75 beds to the Don Vicente Rama National High School, and 25 beds to the Cebu City Central School,” Villar said.
Eight new cases
The Bangsamoro Region registered eight new confirmed cases of the Coronavirus even as it continued to monitor the influx of stranded Individuals and Filipino workers returning from abroad.
Mohammad Asnin Pendatun, spokesman of the Bangsamoro Inter-Agency Task Force, says the regional autonomous government has intensified the monitoring of stranded individuals and those deported from Sabah.
Observers elsewhere have linked the increase in the COVID=19 cases in the region to the influx of returning residents availing themselves of the Hatid Probinsya Program of the national government.