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DTI: Hard to track mask sellers on Facebook marketplace

MANILA, Philippines — Get your disposable face masks elsewhere where they’re cheaper or make your own, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) suggested on Wednesday, admitting that it could not run after vendors selling overpriced face masks on the Facebook Marketplace.

Amid the big demand for face masks as protective devices against the novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV), Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the DTI had asked online platforms to check on their sellers.

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But he did not specify which platforms he was referring to, and had yet to respond to requests for clarification as of press time.

Lopez said tracking sellers and their prices on Facebook Marketplace was difficult, since buyers and sellers agree between them how and when the transaction would be made.

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The social media platform has become a last resort of sorts for consumers who find that most drug stores have run out of stocks because of overwhelming demand for the protective gear.

A check on Facebook Marketplace showed some disposable face masks being sold for P420 per box of 50 pieces which, under ordinary circumstances, would be sold for P50 per box.

“The market should not buy from them,”Lopez said. “You can get from other sources. Why buy from the very expensive [shops]? You can have a handkerchief, you can [get]a tissue paper [and use them as masks],” the official told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of ProPak Philippines 2020, an international processing and packaging trade event held in Metro Manila.

“The problem [with Facebook Markeplace] is that, like informal sectors, it’s so hard to run after,” Lopez said.

Demand for face masks has spiked amid the country’s first nCoV death outside China. A second death was reported on Wednesday.

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TOPICS: Facebook mask sellers, Faceboook Marketplace, nCoV, novel coronavirus
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