‘Manila Province, P. R. China’ label leads to stores’ shutdown
The Manila city government on Thursday shut down the stores of a cosmetics company in Binondo District that describes Manila in its address on the packaging of its hair treatment product as a province of the People’s Republic of China.
Manila’s Bureau of Permits and Licensing Office served a closure order on two stores of Elegant Fumes Beauty Product Inc. on Santo Cristo Street in San Nicolas, Binondo, and two stalls of the company in a shopping mall at Divisoria.
All four shops on Santo Cristo were already closed when the authorities arrived, presumably alerted after a party-list lawmaker earlier asked the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to blacklist Ashley Shine Keratin Treatment Deep Repair, a hair care product manufactured in China for Elegant Fumes, whose address on the product’s packaging is given as “1st flr. 707 Sto Cristo St. San Nicolas, Manila Province, P.R. China.”
Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Rep. Jericho Nograles said the “mislabeling” appeared to be deliberate.
“It is hard to dismiss this insult as a simple error. This incident must be investigated at the very least, and the manufacturer and importer should be blacklisted, as soon as legally permitted,” he said.
Nograles asked Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and FDA Director-General Rolando Enrique Domingo to take action after pictures of Ashley Shine and the address on its packaging flooded the internet.
According to Nograles, Ashley Shine is imported and distributed by Elegant Fumes, a Binondo company owned by a Chinese national.
“Any act to undermine our sovereignty must be taken seriously,” Nograles said in a letter to Lopez and Enrique. He asked that “this detestable and repulsive offense against our nation” be immediately investigated and, “if legally justified, prohibit the continued distribution” of the product in the Philippines.
Made in 2018
Citing information reaching his office, Nograles said the product was made in 2018, and still distributed in the Philippines.
“Succeeding batches of this product already omitted the declaration, but the offense remains the same,” he said.
Nograles said the offense should prompt Congress to pass legislation that would penalize the mislabeling of consumer products.
He expressed delight at Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso’s quickly ordering the closure of Elegant Fumes and its outlets.
In a Facebook broadcast, Domagoso said Elegant Fumes had five owners—two Chinese nationals and three Filipinos.
Domagoso said he would ask the Bureau of Immigration to deport the two foreigners and tag them as undesirable aliens.
He said that a check with the FDA showed Elegant Fumes was not licensed to sell beauty products.
Levi Facundo, Manila’s permits and licensing office director, described the offense as “misrepresentation.”
“The [description] on the product gave the wrong information. First of all, Binondo is in Manila. There is no Binondo in [the] People’s Republic of China. We will not let this slide,” Facundo said in the Facebook video after the closure of the Elegant Fumes shops.
He said the owner of the company remained unidentified, and that the address on the product’s packaging could be a warehouse or a repacking center.
Another space, at 703 Santo Cristo Street, could be the administrative office, Facundo said.
In Malacañang, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said it was up to the FDA to decide whether to ban the product.
“For me, that’s nonsense. We shouldn’t give that attention because no one actually believes that we are a province of China,” Roque told a news briefing. —WITH A REPORT FROM JULIE M. AURELIO