By Arjay L. Balinbin

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director-General Ronald M. dela Rosa to arrest all persons “who manufacture, import, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, distribute fake drugs and charge them with economic sabotage,” Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo said.

“They will be charged with economic sabotage, because those acts undermine not only the economy — the law of supply and demand, the prices — but also threaten the security of the nation….That is why to the President’s mind, these people should be arrested and charged (with) economic sabotage,” Mr. Panelo told reporters on Wednesday, March 28.

The President’s order, Mr. Panelo said, was given “last night,” March 27.

He also said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has “issued a warning to the public to beware of fake drugs, especially Paracetamol.”

Mr. Panelo also issued a statement saying in part: “The scale at which the pharmaceutical industry of the Philippines may be affected can also result in considerable loss of government revenues, specifically in the form of taxes.”

In its public advisory dated March 16, the FDA advised the public “against the purchase and use of the verified counterfeit drug product Paracetamol (Biogesic) 500 mg tablet.”

The FDA likewise warned that “the importation, selling or offering for sale of a counterfeit drug product is in direct violation of the Republic Act No. 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009, and Republic Act No. 8203, or the Special Law on Counterfeit Drugs.”

All local government units and law enforcement agencies, the FDA also said, are “requested to ensure that the counterfeit product is not sold or made available in their localities or areas of jurisdiction.”