3 more face mask hoarders arrested in Malolos

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Three persons involved in hoarding and selling of overpriced surgical face masks were arrested by agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) on Wednesday (April 8, 2020). The Bulacan-CIDG, together with Provincial Intelligence Branch arrested the suspects in an entrapment operation in front of Robinsons Mall along MacArthur Highway, Barangay Sumapang Matanda, Malolos. (Photo courtesy of Bulacan PPO)

CAMP GEN. ALEJO SANTOS, Bulacan – Three more persons involved in hoarding and selling of overpriced surgical face mask have been jailed by agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) on Wednesday (April 8).

Col. Lawrence Cajipe, acting Bulacan police director, said an entrapment operation against the suspects was conducted by a joint team of the CIDG Bulacan and Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB), in coordination with Department of Trade and Industry in front of Robinsons Mall along MacArthur Highway in Barangay Sumapang Matanda, Malolos City.

He identified the suspects as Rolando Mercado, 48, an online seller; Ramon Chito Nicolas, 44, driver and Luisita Nicolas, 38, Mercado’s administrative assistant.

Cajipe said a police poseur buyer transacted with Mercado via online and ordered 500 boxes of disposable surgical face mask for PHP1,100 per box (50 pieces per box) and a total amount of PHP550,000. However, the suggested retail price for the said product is only PHP150 to PHP600 per box or PHP3 to PHP12 per piece.

After the consummated transaction, the suspects were arrested and apprised of their Constitutional Rights and brought to the CIDG Office.

Cajipe said recovered during the sting were 500 boxes with 50 pcs per box with Chinese Character brand name of Disposable Surgical Face Mask amounting to P550,000; one pc genuine 1000 peso bill and 200 pieces of 1000 bill boodle money.

“The products being sold by the suspects were found to be higher than the Department of Trade and Industry’s suggested retail price,” Cajipe added.

Cases for violation of Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, RA 7581 as amended by RA 10623 (Price Act), RA 7394 (Consumer Act) and RA 11332 (Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act) will be filed against the suspects before the Malolos City Prosecutor’s Office.

“The Bulacan Police is stern and relentless in the implementation of ‘Bayanihan to Heal as One Act’ and will not cease to go after the individuals and storeowners who will engage in profiteering, overpricing and hoarding medical supplies,” Cajipe added.

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Emmanuel "Manny" Dineros Balbin, an editor-in-chief of RONDA Balita, Lingguhang Pahayagan ng Masang Intelihente, and RONDA Balita Online News was a former seminarian of Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) in Notre Dame University Seminary in Cotabato City. Graduated Philosophy as major course, Political Science as minor, at the University of Santo Tomas, Legaspi City but landed and became a journalist. A former Journal Group of Publication (People's Journal, Peoples Tonight, Taliba & Women's Journal) staffer for 17 years. Before he was simultaneously contributed news articles to 3 local newspaper in Bulacan (NewsCore, MetroNews & NewsWatcher). A former Journal Group Bulacan correspondent, Kabayan provincial reporter, 2010 Bulacan election correspondent by Rappler and presently, a stringer of Philippine News Agency (PNA) Bulacan.

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