Customs raid warehouses of company ordered investigated by Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs seized an estimated P50 million worth of medical supplies and equipment in warehouses owned by Omnibus Biomedical System, Inc., a company that has been allegedly selling overpriced medical equipment to the government.

The BOC raid took place in the afternoon of May 28, Thursday, at the company’s warehouses on Wilson Street in Greenhills, San Juan and in Malabon City.

The team presented the Letter of Authority (LOA) and Mission Order (MO) signed by BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero to the Chinese nationals who were at the warehouse.

Omnibus Biomedical System, Inc. was mentioned in a Senate inquiry to be allegedly selling overpriced extraction machines to the government amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The BOC said it has been investigating the company for alleged smuggling operations.

Authorities claimed the company is hoarding and overpricing medical supplies and equipment such as high-pressure stream sterilizer, blood bags, books, real-time quantitative thermal cycler, and other medical supplies and equipment. 

The BOC said it will file a case against the company if it fails to show proof of payment of taxes and duties. 

In a taped address on Monday, May 25, President Rodrigo Duterte directed the  National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the couple who own Omnibus Biomedical System, Inc.

Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Lao had identified them as among the bidders interested in supplying equipment to the government, and offered to sell automated extraction machines to the government for some P4 million. The market price of the machine is P1.75 million. 

Lao said that this was the equipment that Senator Panfilo Lacson referred to in a recent Senate hearing as being overpriced. Omnibus, however, lost the bidding to a Hong Kong-based company.

The BOC has earlier raided stores selling overpriced medical supplies. In March, it seized some P5 million worth of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and alcohol from a store in Binondo, Manila. 

Earlier in May, the agency raided a warehouse in Singalong, Malate, Manila for selling alleged medicines for COVID-19.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque earlier said that profiteering is punishable by law through the Price Act and Bayanihan Law. – Rappler.com