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FDA 10: “Our hands are tied”

AN official of the Foods and Drug Administration (FDA) based here in Northern Mindanao admitted that they cannot just raid any establishment that blatantly sells banned dermatological products.

This was the reaction of FDA 10 director Flordelina dela Cerna upon learning that the advocacy group Ecowaste Coalition revealed yesterday that there were still whitening products banned due to high mercury content that are still sold in Cagayan de Oro City.

During the press conference, Thony Dizon from Ecowaste Coalition presented to the public a total of 33 samples of banned products that were allegedly sold in 12 different outlets here.

The whitening products that have already been banned by FDA include Goree day and night whitening cream, Goree beauty cream, Renow-D facial cream, Deeja cosmetic sun cream, Deeja cosmetic wrinkle cream, Deeja cosmetic dream cream, RDCL babyface whitening cream and RDL face-off cream.

These were the same products presented by Ecowaste Coalition that were allegedly bought in Angel Chavez Complex, Cogon market and Agora market – all located in Cagayan de Oro City.

In a separate interview, dela Cerna confirmed that the various products presented by Ecowaste Coalition have indeed already been banned by the government but pointed out that the regulatory agency has its own procedures in enforcing the law.

“Dili mi basta-basta nga adtuon namo na nga mga establishment nga gipresentar sa Ecowaste because of a number of factors. One, kung makabalo sila nga naa mi within duol na sa ila premises, ila dayon na dali-dalion og tago. Two, we need proper coordination as per our protocol,” dela Cerna said.

Dela Cerna explained that the usual protocol was for the FDA central office to order its nearest enforcement cluster here – in this case, Davao City – to organize a raiding team and coordinate with local authorities – in this case, the city government and the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo).

She added that only the enforcement unit cluster of FDA is authorized to confiscate any banned product as well as execute search warrants and arrest warrants issued by the courts and serve orders by the director-general of FDA.

With this, Dela Cerna pointed out that the regional office of FDA here in Northern Mindanao is composed only of six inspectors and they do not have any police power, unlike their enforcement counterparts from Davao City.

Dela Cerna also admitted that they could not also relay the expose of Ecowaste Coalition to its enforcement counterparts because that would be tantamount to hearsay.

“Unless kami mismo mangunay og test buy, pwede namo na i-report sa central office para sila ang maghimo og special order for our enforcement unit in Davao City to act on it,” she said.

But dela Cerna pointed out that the mandate of FDA is vast and their concerns are not limited to banned whitening products alone vis-à-vis the number of inspectors they have which is composed of six persons only regionwide.

She said they are merely following the advisories from their central office on which concerns to focus at the moment.

“As of now, ang concern sa central office is to track down banned pork products such as Ma-ling so mao na ang gitutokan namo karong panahona. That is why we confiscated several Ma-ling items in Cogon market a few days ago kay mao na ang directive sa central office,” dela Cerna said.

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