The Department of Trade and Industry Iloilo Provincial Office conducted a price monitoring on some supermarkets in Iloilo City regarding the prices of basic and prime commodities including alcohol, face masks, and other medical supplies. This was done after authorities have declared a Code Red Alert and imposed a nationwide price freeze on necessities amid the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country.
In a statement, the DTI said prices of necessities shall be frozen at their prevailing prices for 60 days unless lifted by the President as provided under Section 6 of Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act as amended. The monitoring team was led by OIC-Provincial Director Felisa Judith L. Degala. Degala warned that any seller who commits any act of illegal price manipulation or violations of Section 6 or Republic Act 7581 shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of up to ten (10) years and a fine of up to two million pesos (P 2,000,000.00).
It can be recalled that the agency announced a nationwide price freeze pursuant to the Price Act or Republic Act 7581. Moreover, Proclamation No. 922 – putting the country in a State of Public Health Emergency – led to the implementation of the nationwide price freeze.
As of March 11, the agency warns filing of criminal charges on overpricing and hoarding of medical devices and products like alcohol, medicines, masks of N-88, N-95, similar face masks, alcohol/sanitizers, and medical devices.
“We have recommended to the President the issuance of an Executive Order (EO) for easier procedure of filing of cases and imposition of stiffer penalties for profiteering. The proposed EO will arm the DTI together with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police (PNP), and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) with visitorial powers to address the issue on prices and supply of medical products,” states Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.
For online transactions, DTI encourages consumers to patronize online sellers with DTI or SEC registration and mayor’s permit. Moreover, online sellers who have no business permit and are overpricing face masks, alcohol and medical supplies which are under prize freeze may be reported to the National Bureau of Investigation or the Philippine National Police.
Consumers are encouraged to report hoarding, profiteering, panic buying, and any other illegal act of price manipulation through the One-DTI (1-384) Hotline or send an email to ConsumerCare@dti.gov.ph.