VM Lacuna-Pangan says Manila will punish opportunistic vendors selling overpriced N95 masks

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The City Government of Manila has started a crackdown on stores selling overpriced air filtration masks, Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan said on Monday.

This after the office of Pangan received reports of N95 filter masks sold at P200. The mask usually costs around P30 to P75 and suddenly went expensive after its demand increased following government advisories to wear it as protection from ashfall caused by Taal Volcano’s unrest.

“Huwag naman po natin gamitin ang panahon na ito para manamantala. Tandaan po natin, delikado po sa kalusugan nila ang ashfall,” Lacuna-Pangan added.

If found guilty, merchants will have their permits revoked apart from having to face charges.

The Consumer Act’s Section 52 bans Unfair or Unconscionable Sales Act or Practice, and prohibits sellers from exploiting buyers based on “physical or mental infirmity, ignorance, illiteracy, lack of time or the general conditions of the environment or surroundings.”

Violators will be fined from P500 to P10,000 or be imprisoned from five months to a year.

She ordered the Manila Bureau of Permits at Manila Licenses Office to conduct inspections.

Lacuna-Pangan takes leadership in Manila as Mayor Isko Moreno is stranded in Hong Kong as flights were canceled due to Taal’s ash discharge.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has mentioned using N95 grade face masks to block out at least 95 percent of fine ashfall that may cause irritation and breathing problems, especially among the elderly and children. Wet clothes or towels are also options.

Its demand has skyrocketed overnight after the public was advised to be on guard against the effects of heavy and prolonged ashfall.

In a text message, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said the ashfall from the ongoing eruption of Taal has spread to Muntinlupa, Las Piñas, Marikina, Parañaque, Pasig, Quezon City, Mandaluyong, San Juan, Manila, Makati, and Taguig.

On Sunday evening, 24-year-old John Moquerio who was riding his motorcycle along Sta. Ana had an asthma attack after inhaling volcanic ash.

He was brought to Sta. Ana Hospital where he was diagnosed with bronchial asthma. He was treated before being sent home.