Quezon City. Paranaque City police operatives yesterday (March 8) raided shops in Baclaran in the latest police effort to stop the unlawful sale of deadly silver jewelry cleaners in Metro Manila.
The police action, the second in a row of police operations after the Manila police operation in Quiapo last March 1, seized 34 unregistered liquid silver cleaning products from four shops located in Baclaran Super Mall.
Police Major Michael Chavez, Chief of Intelligence Unit, led the raiding team that also involved representatives from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), EcoWaste Coalition and the media (Channel 7's "Imbestigador").
“It’s unlawful to sell unregistered and unlabelled silver cleaning agents. We appeal to shop owners and vendors to follow the law. We will monitor their compliance and conduct another round of police operation if needed. Our duty is to protect our people from toxic harm,” said Police Major Chavez.
The sale of unregistered and unlabelled silver jewelry cleaners containing cyanide and other toxic substances is banned under the Joint DOH-DENR Advisory 2010-001 issued in September last year to halt the injuries and deaths resulting from their accidental or suicidal ingestion.
The government prohibits the sale of silver cleaning agents not duly registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and not properly labelled as required under the Consumer Protection Act and other laws.
In a complaint sent to PNP Director General Raul Bacalzo last February 22, the EcoWaste Coalition identified Baclaran, particularly the Baclaran Super Mall, as one of the “hotspots” of unlawful trade of the banned silver cleaning products.
“We laud the Paranaque police for affirming their duty to safeguard the public health and safety. We hope the police operations will continue until illegal silver jewelry cleaners are totally gone from the market,” said Thony Dizon, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).
“We further hope that violators are formally charged in courts and duly penalized,” he added.
The EcoWaste Coalition reiterated a warning from the Environmental Management Bureau stating “the risk that these jewelry cleaners containing cyanide pose to public health is extremely high" and thus justifying the need for strong police action against violators.
Based on the monitoring of the EcoWaste Coalition, nine cases of fatal ingestion of silver jewelry cleaner were reported in the media from December 2010 to February 2011. Seven of the fatalities deliberately drank to commit suicide.
Among the silver poisoning victims in December 2010 were Rea Patricio, 14-year old of Navotas City who died on December 8; Manny Bacani, 2, Muntinlupa City, December 16; and Marissa Ruega, 19, Caloocan City, December 19.
The other fatalities in 2011 include Armando Fabon, 47, Caloocan City, January 11; Christine Gomez, 2, Santiago City, Isabela, February 2; Jenny Rose Aspe, 17, Tondo, Manila, February 2; Jade Dinero, 39, Caloocan City, February 3; Mary Jane Sahi, 27, February 21; and Hyacinth Hermoso, 35, who died on 24 February.