NBI arrests 2 for smuggling Covid-19 meds

NBI arrests 2 for smuggling Covid-19 meds

MANILA — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) today (Saturday, 25 Sept 2021) announced the arrest of 2 individuals in Cebu City for smuggling medicines used for the treatment of COVID 19.

NBI Officer-in-Charge (OIC)-Director Eric B. Distor identified the Subjects as Dr. NELSON ONG y TIU and his daughter RAISA NICOLE ONG y CHENG, a third-year medical student.

Director Distor said that on September 14, 2021, NBI-Central Visayas Regional Office (NBI-CEVRO) based in Cebu City received a piece of information that shipment of unregistered and illegally imported Tocilizumab vials placed in a cold storage box is due to arrive from Manila to Cebu via PAL flight on that day at 5:30 pm.

Tocilizumab is a medicine used for the treatment of severely COVID 19 patients. Distor added that the shipment was consigned to a certain Raisa Ong, whose name had already cropped up in the intelligence report as one of the active distributors of Tocilizumab and other COVID-19 related medicines in Cebu.

Acting under strict orders from Director Distor, NBI-CEVRO operatives proceeded to PAL Cargo arrival area at MCIAA Complex, Lapu-Lapu City to validate and verify the information.

The NBI operatives coordinated with Cargo personnel and conducted a visual inspection of the target package, then requested the Cargo personnel to separate the cargo and put it in a secured place until the arrival of the consignee/claimant.

Later, a Chinese-looking female, later identified as Raisa Ong, showed up to claim the package.

Subject Raisa Ong was accompanied by Subject Nelson Ong while processing the release of the subject package.

Upon withdrawal of the package, Subjects Raisa Ong and Nelson Ong proceeded to their vehicle.

At this juncture, NBI-CEVRO operatives immediately approached Subjects. The operatives requested the Subjects to open the cold storage box and they agreed. Subject Raisa Ong opened the box and found therein ten (10) pieces of Tocilizumab vials and 25 boxes of Baricitinib, also medicine for CVID 19, tablets all placed in carton packaging which appeared to be imported from India but no local importer or distributor and without the FDA approved labeling and prints.

When asked for authority to import said medicines, the Subjects could not present any document or license to import, distribute or sell the same. Thus, the 2 Subjects were placed under arrest. Certification issued by the FDA also revealed that no authority or license to operate as a drug importer and/or any drug establishment of any pharmaceutical drugs has been granted to the arrested Subjects. The FDA further said that according to their examination, the seized medicines have been certified to be unregistered and illegally diverted.

On September 17, 2021, the Subjects were presented for Inquest proceedings before the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s Office for violation of R.A. 3720 as amended by R.A. 9711, otherwise known as the “Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009” in relation to R.A. 10863 (Custom’s Modernization Act).
(Kiara Lauren Ibanez/BENJAMIN CUARESMA/ai/mtvn)

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