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Biñan planning alcohol ‘buy-bust’

/ 04:56 AM March 16, 2020

Online vendors who jack up the prices of rubbing alcohol and other disinfectants used to check the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) face possible arrest in “buy-bust” operations in Laguna province.

The disinfectants had quickly disappeared from the shelves of supermarkets and grocery stores since the virus scare. Alcohol is reportedly being sold at twice its normal price.

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The city government of Biñan in Laguna has offered a P10,000 reward for tipsters who could help set up a physical meetup with online vendors who overprice the items.

This is aimed at stopping the hoarding of the items, Mayor Walfredo Dimaguila Jr. on Sunday said.

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Sting operation

In a phone interview, Dimaguila said the informants could coordinate with his office to arrange a sting operation similar to police “buy-busts” that commonly targeted street drug peddlers.

Once set up, “a police officer, in civilian (clothes), will accompany him or her for the transaction,” he said.

If possible, he said, the “meetup” should be within Biñan or in nearby towns and cities.

What would have been its first operation, born out of a global health crisis that shoved people into panic, was called off on Saturday evening.

“Mukang nakatunog,” the mayor said.

[The target must have been tipped off,]

Though reminded that the measure might only alarm the vendors and force them to just simply transact elsewhere, Dimaguila said: “That’s precisely the point — to warn, scare them, and make them paranoid.”

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He said he hoped other local governments would come up with similar measures.

Price freeze

Last week, the Department of Trade and Industry announced a 60-day price freeze on basic goods to include rubbing alcohol and face masks, following a mad rush of people to grocery stores due to community quarantines.

Local governments have also imposed policies, such as a two-bottle limit to purchases of alcohol.

“But way before the price freeze, many people had already hoarded them for online resale. These people were enterprising,” Dimaguila said.

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: alcohol hoarding, alcohol price, COVID-19
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