The Departments of Justice, Health, Interior and Local Government, Trade and Industry, and Agriculture, and the Bureau of Customs have signed a Joint Circular for the seizure, forfeiture and disposition of basic or prime commodities, and health products and other goods necessary to address the CoVid-19, and articles of prime necessity pending preliminary investigation or trial.
The Joint Circular deputizes the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP CIDG), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and other law enforcement agencies to conduct operations against persons and establishments violating the Price Act or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), and to confiscate goods from said persons or establishments.
Upon confiscation, the goods will be turned over to either the DTI, DOH, DA or BOC, as the case may be, which shall then initiate summary proceedings for the seizure of the goods. Upon presentation of substantial evidence that the goods were imported, held or otherwise possessed by the person or establishment in violation of the Price Act or the CMTA, the goods will be formally seized and thereafter either forfeited in favor of the government or disposed of in accordance with law.
In cases where the law requires the holding of a public auction or sale as a mode of disposition, the government is given the preference to purchase the goods at the Suggested Retail Price (SRP). In the absence of an SRP, purchase will be at the market price. When permitted by law, outright donation to the government shall be resorted to.
The Joint Circular likewise requires law enforcers and the agency conducting seizure proceedings to strictly follow rules on the inventory of confiscated goods so as to avoid compromising the criminal prosecution where such goods are originally supposed to be used as evidence. It likewise directs prosecutors to cause the transfer of custody of these goods to the appropriate agency for seizure.
To guarantee the safety of goods and medical supplies, consultation with the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies is required prior to the seizure of confiscated goods.
The Joint Circular has been issued to ensure that prime commodities, especially medical supplies and personal protective equipment, seized from persons and establishments engaged in illegal importation, hoarding, price manipulation and fraudulent practices are made immediately available for use by hospitals and medical facilities.
Click on the links below to view the full circular: