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ILOCOS NORTE –In a series of buy-bust operations jointly conducted by the PNPCIDG, the NBI and the PNP-Laoag City Station on March 27-29, 2020, three (3) abusive sellers of alcohol were arrested.

The operations stemmed from numerous consumer complaints received by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Ilocos Norte on products sold online which were unreasonably priced as well as sold by individuals who have no registered businesses. Proclamation No. 922 which puts the country under a State of Public Health Emergency due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, thereby making some products 

At the height of the implementation of the Enhanced Quarantine Period over the entire Luzon, the DTI warned that criminal charges would be filed against those suspected of overpricing, hoarding and operating or into illegal manufacture of medical devices and products like alcohol, medicines, and face masks. 

On March 27, 2020, the NBI in coordination with the DTI Ilocos Norte arrested one (1) on-line seller of overpriced alcohol. A total of thirty (30) bottles at 1L per bottle were confiscated.

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Two more successful operations were conducted on March 29, 2020. The PNP Laoag City  arrested a saleslady of a pharmacy involved in the selling of overpriced alcohol  where a 500ml bottle of alcohol is priced at PhP177.00. A total of six (6) bottles at 500ml per bottle was confiscated.  In a separate operation, the DTI-CIDG team  arrested another online seller of overpriced and unlabeled alcohol. The team was able to confiscate a total of 10 gallons of isopropyl alcohol priced at PhP850.00 per gallon.   Under the Consumer Act or Republic Act (RA) No. 7394, overpricing of alcohol may be considered as an unfair and unconscionable sales act or practice since it involves taking advantage of consumers in this time of need. The Price Act (RA 7581) also considers this as an act of profiteering.   Both of these laws provide criminal and administrative penalties and sanctions. Under the Consumer Act, if found to have committed an unfair and unconscionable sales act or practice, an administrative sanction of up to P300,000.00 may be imposed and/or imprisonment of up to one (1) year. For profiteering, the Price Act provides for the imposition of fine of up to P2,000,000.00 and/or imprisonment of up to 15 years.   The DTI Ilocos Norte headed by Director Rosario Q. Quodala continues to coordinate closely with the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte and to other government agencies, manufacturers, and retailers of basic goods to ensure availability and continuous supply in the market. Retailers are constantly reminded that there should be no price movement on basic commodities while the price freeze is in effect.   For further inquiries, clarifications, and or complaints, consumers may connect through the DTI Officer of the Day COVID Rapid Response deployed at the NDRRMC Camp Aguinaldo – 09266126728, DTI Command Center – 09560916570, DTI-Ilocos Norte Consumer Protection Division – 09189337231 or may email at

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Date of Release: 1 April 2020