Duterte warns public vs. online scammers selling face masks

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MANILA – Amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, President Rodrigo Duterte dissuaded the public from resorting to the online purchase of medical equipment, such as face masks.

In a taped public address aired on state-run PTV-4 on Friday morning, Duterte cautioned the public against falling prey to online sellers who are behind face mask scams.

He advised them not to buy face masks online, especially if the sellers are from the provinces, mentioning Pampanga and Abra.

“I’d like to address this to everybody. Mga kababayan (To my fellow countrymen), do not fall for that online (online purchase). It has never been perfected. And all the scams that man could think of, that they can perpetrate on the innocent public, pinag-aaralan nila iyan (they study that),” Duterte said.

He said it would be better to purchase face masks in Metro Manila.

“Saan sila mag-kuha ng masks doon? Nandito ang Maynila. Dito kayo sa Maynila (Where will those online sellers get the face masks? Here in Manila. So buy the face masks in Manila),” Duterte said.

The President also told the public to inspect the item first before giving the payment.

He gave the advice, noting that scammers “take advantage of the misery of the people” amid the Covid-19 crisis.

“Be careful, lokohan ‘to ngayon (It’s really a scam now). The best is (tell them), ‘Give me the goods, I pay you. Or better still, ‘Give me the goods, I will examine it if it is really the one that (I) ordered, then I will pay you,” Duterte said.

Authorities have been arresting people engaged in the hoarding and selling of overpriced surgical face masks.

Under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, individuals involved in hoarding, profiteering, or manipulation of prices amid the health crisis could face two-month imprisonment or a fine ranging from PHP10,000 to PHP1 million, or both. -PNA

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