News - 2020-0331_PRU-059

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), along with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), seized a total of over P15 million worth of alcohol, hand sanitizers, face masks, and thermal scanners in separate operations across the country.

“We continue to warn establishments against raising their prices and taking advantage of the COVID-19 situation,” said DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez.

Citing the DTI-CIDG-NBI summary report, the Trade Secretary announced that a total of 62 operations have been conducted nationwide from 18-28 March 2020. NBI conducted 26 operations and arrested 64 individuals while CIDG conducted 36 operations wherein 59 individuals found hoarding and selling overpriced medical supplies have been arrested by authorities.

DTI, together with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Health (DOH), released on 18 March 2020 Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2020-01 to ensure the proper implementation of the price freeze on basic necessities and prime commodities, which shall last for sixty (60) days from the declaration of the State of Calamity on 16 March 2020, unless sooner lifted by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Through the JMC of DTI, DA, and DOH, we reiterate the continuous and strict implementation of the price freeze to prevent hoarding and profiteering for the entire period of the state of calamity,” said Sec. Lopez.

Under the JMC, Local Price Coordination Councils (LPCCs) have also been reactivated to closely monitor the prices of agriculture and fishery products, processed goods, and medicines sold in urban centers nationwide.

The implementing agencies, in coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Government, shall ensure that the LPCCs are fully mobilized and operational.

“Our main goal here is to protect our consumers against undue surge in prices, particularly now that the nation is under a state of emergency,” said Sec. Lopez.

“When violators raise the price of basic necessities by even just a few pesos, hundreds, even thousands of Filipinos are heavily affected. That is why we ask for the cooperation of all retailers to strictly abide by the directives of the national government,” he added.

The DTI Consumer Protection Group is closely monitoring the price freeze on basic commodities. Any person or entity found violating the Price Act will be fined between P5,000 and P2 million and face imprisonment between five and 15 years.

As the government further strengthens its quarantine efforts, consumers are enjoined to report business establishments that sell beyond the price freeze by calling hotline 1384 or 1-DTI. ♦

Date of Release: 31 March 2020