BATANGAS CITY – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) confiscated appliances from two supermarkets during an inspection last 27 January 2020. The appliances included light bulbs, rice cookers, electric kettles, and induction cookers that do not have Philippine Standard (PS) marks or Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) stickers for imported products.

“When buying electric products, consumers should always check for PS or ICC marks, even if they’re from known brands. The stickers certify that the products passed quality and safety standards set by the Philippine National Standards. Substandard products tend to break down sooner and may even cause fire,” said DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez.

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DTI also issued Notices of Violation and gave the two establishments 48 hours to respond. If charged, they may be fined up to PHP 300,000 according to DTI Department Administrative Order No. 02 S, 2007.

In one supermarket, DTI seized all appliances under the brand “US Tradition” because they either did not have stickers, or the sticker information did not match the product when scanned by the ICC Verification System app by the DTI-Bureau of Product Standards.

The free app, available on Google Play and the App Store, can scan QR codes on the ICC stickers to reveal product information. Sec. Lopez encouraged the public to download the app and report fake ICC stickers to the 1-DTI (1-384) hotline.

Apart from pursuing erring retailers, Sec. Lopez directed the DTI to go after the distributors and manufacturers of substandard products. This way, they can be confiscated even before they land in stores.

Sec. Lopez was with House Committee on Trade and Industry Chair Weslie Gatchalian, DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo, and Department of Agriculture (DA) Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista to monitor the prices of basic goods and agriculture products in Batangas City after the Taal volcano eruption.

DTI Batangas declared a price freeze on 13 January, which set a price ceiling for basic necessities like bottled water, canned sardines, bread, instant coffee, and powdered milk. The team found that groceries mostly adhere to the price ceiling, with some products priced even lower than the set ceiling.

DTI, however, issued a Show Cause Order to a supermarket selling bottled water products above the price ceiling. They were given 48 hours to respond and adjust their prices. The management said that since they are part of a supermarket chain, the prices come from the head office. But they said they will lower the prices and inform their head office immediately. If charged with profiteering, establishments may incur a fine between PHP1,000 to PHP1,000,000, under Republic Act 7581 or The Price Act.

Meanwhile, prices of rice, chicken, and pork in wet markets also remained stable since the eruption. Both chicken and pork were priced at PHP 170 – PHP 180/kg. But according to the DA, since the farmgate prices of chicken and pork are PHP 80/kg and PHP 100/kg respectively, the retail prices should only be around PHP 140/kg for chicken and PHP 180/kg for pork.

Sec. Lopez said that since DTI has no authority over agriculture products, they can’t file charges against overpricing vendors. Instead, he suggested that DA set a Suggested Retail Price for these products, especially Chicken, so the DA can have a solid basis for filing charges.♦

Date of Release: 28 January 2020