Watchdog Deplores Rampant Sale of Banned Products in Quiapo, Calls for End in Impunity for Illegal Trade

Advocates for consumer health and safety decried the
unbridled sale in Quiapo, Manila of dangerous products laced with cyanide,
lead, mercury and other substances of concern that the government had banned to
protect the public health and the environment.
To stem such illegal trade at the heart of Manila’s famed
cultural and commercial district,  the
EcoWaste Coalition called on the authorities to take a no-nonsense approach for
enforcing health and safety directives.
Last Friday, August 8, three members of the group’s
AlerToxic Patrol combed the Carriedo, Evangelista, Ramon Hidalgo, Carlos
Palanca, Gonzalo Puyat and Villalobos Streets and Quezon Boulevard to find
out  if pertinent orders issued by the
Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) banning certain products are complied with.
During their surveillance, the group saw for themselves
how some of the forbidden products are openly sold in street stalls or general
merchandise shops in the area with the exception of the abortion-inducing
Cytotec, which is discreetly sold.
“We’re appalled to witness such a brazen show of
non-compliance that makes a mockery of our consumer health and product safety
laws,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project
“We need to tear down this culture of impunity where
anyone can sell banned products that can threaten human and ecosystem health
and simply get away with it,” he noted.
Among these life-threatening products on sale in Quiapo
1.  Misoprostol
(Cytotec), an unregistered drug banned by the FDA since 2002, that is secretly
sold outside Quiapo Church for P600 for four tablets.
2.  Brazilian
Slimming Coffee and Leisure 18 Slimming Coffee that were among the 26
weight-reducing  or anti-obesity products
banned by the FDA from 2010-2012 for containing harmful ingredients such as
amphetamine and sibutramine, sold for P100 each at Dimacalo General
Merchandise, P. Gomez St. and J.B. Amante General Merchandise, Plaza Miranda.
3.  Aichun Beauty
Pawpaw Whitening and Freckle Remover, Bai Li Tou Hong and Erna Whitening Cream,
which belong to the FDA’s list of 104 banned mercury-laced skin lightening
creams that “pose imminent danger or injury to the consuming public,” sold at
Chinese drug stores in Plaza Miranda.
4.  Baolishi No. 20
and Mona Liza No. 20 lipsticks that the FDA banned in 2013 and 2014, along with
29 others, for containing excessive amounts of toxic lead, sold at general
merchandise stores for P20 and P50, respectively.
5.  Baolilai
Aerosol Insecticide,Big Bie Pai Aerosol Insecticide, Big Bie Pai Extra Power
Flying Insect Killer, Butiki Waterbased Multi-Insect Killer, Sun Universe
Frogking Insecticide Aerosol , Tianshi Insect Killer and Green Leaf Powder
Cockroach Killing Bait that were among the 16 insecticides banned by the FDA in
2013 for being “harmful, toxic and imminently dangerous to human and animal
health,” sold in over 15 retail outlets, including ambulant vendors.
The EcoWaste Coalition also reported buying a liquid
silver jewelry cleaning solution for P55. 
The Department of Health and the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources jointly banned in 2010 deadly silver cleaners containing cyanide and
other hazardous substances.
To end impunity in Quiapo and other business hubs such as
Divisoria where budget-conscious Filipinos shop, the EcoWaste Coalition
proposes the following:
1.  For the
government to launch massive public information campaign to educate sellers and
consumers and insist on market compliance.
2.  For the
national and local health, trade, customs and police authorities to conduct
nonstop operations to apprehend violators.
3.  For the FDA to
set up satellite offices in major centers of trade and commerce to ensure
enforcement of the agency’s directives.
The EcoWaste Coalition further asked the government to
ensure the environmentally-sound disposal of the confiscated items, many of
which are laden with toxic metals and other chemicals of concern, to prevent
occupational exposure and environmental pollution.
Slimming Products:
Mercury in Skin Creams:
Silver Cleaner: