Following the series of supply and price monitoring of N95 and surgical masks, DTI caught 18 retail establishments overpricing these essential products. Notices of violations were initially issued to give due process. With insufficient explanations, DTI proceeded with the filing of charges that imposed penalties of up to P300,000 per store.

The recent eruption of Taal Volcano on January 12, 2020 which affected not only CALABARZON but surrounding areas including Metro Manila, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) received reports on alleged overpricing of face masks such as N95, surgical, and other similar masks by some establishments.

Secretary Lopez ordered the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) to immediately conduct prices and supply monitoring of the above-mentioned products. The following days, 13-14 January 2020, enforcement activities were conducted in Bambang, Manila covering seventeen (17) establishments, twelve (12) of which were issued Notices of Violation (NOVs) pursuant to the Consumer Act of the Philippines or Republic Act No. 7394.

FTEB conducted another round of enforcement activities on January 15, 2020 and reports showed that another six (6) establishments were issued NOVs for overpricing. FTEB also reported that prices of N95 masks jumped from Php 50.00 up to Php 180.00 per piece and most establishments monitored were claiming that those products were already sold-out due to the increased demand.

All 18 establishments with NOVs were asked to submit their explanation within 48 hours from receipt thereof. Upon finding the explanations to be not acceptable, the NOVs ripened to Formal Charges against the erring establishments citing Article 52 of Consumer Act particularly for selling N95 at an Unfair or Unconscionable price and for taking advantage of the situation.

Secretary Lopez warns establishments against taking advantage of the high demand by raising their price excess of the true worth of the said products. He also added that the aforementioned establishments will face an administrative penalty of up to Php 300,000.00 depending on the gravity of the offense.

For further inquiries, clarifications, and/or complaints, consumers may immediately connect through Consumer Care hotline at 1-DTI (1-384) or may email at♦

Date of Release: 27 January 2020