MANILA – Some 648 boxes of fake N95 face masks with an estimated value of PHP80 million (US$1.6 million) were seized by agents of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) at a warehouse in Marilao, Bulacan.
Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said in a statement that a raid conducted on Wednesday at the village of Santa Rosa led to the discovery of knockoff masks which bore copied “designs and logos of famous luxury fashion brands.”
The authorities were also able to confiscate some 1,000 cases of illegally smuggled cigarettes which included Marlboro, among other brands.
Guerrero did not reveal the identities of the suspects or owners of the large contraband but the seized items have been transported to a holding facility in the Port of Manila for further investigation.
“The latest apprehension affirms the Bureau’s steadfast commitment in preventing the entry of smuggled items into the country as well as protecting the public from the dangers of using fake items such as protective equipment especially during this time of (the pandemic,” the customs chief said.
Mandatory wearing of face masks has been in effect across the country since early April, and the public have taken creative liberties in the now-familiar protective gear.
The government, however, has recently warned against the use of face masks with breathing valves, saying it only offers one-sided protection against the coronavirus.
Hospitals have been advised to prohibit the entry of persons wearing face masks with valves.
According to FDA director-general Eric Domingo, said masks with valves are not registered for medical purposes and they are manufactured only to provide protection against dust, such as those used in industrial firms.