The Department of Trade and Industry, along with the National Bureau of Investigation and the National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, seized 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 (coronavirus disease 2019) situation,” Trade and Industry Sec. Ramon Lopez said.
Citing the DTI-CIDG-NBI summary report, Lopez said a total of 62 operations have been conducted nationwide on March 18 to 28.
The 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 and the Department of Health, released on March 18 Joint Memorandum Circular 2020-01 ensuring the proper implementation of the price freeze on basic necessities and prime commodities, which would last for 60 days from the declaration of the state of calamity on March 16, unless sooner lifted by President 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,” Lopez said.
Under the JMC, the Local Price Coordinating Councils 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 the Interior and Local Government, would ensure that the LPCCs are fully mobilized and operational.
Lopez further said the main goal is to protect the consumers against an undue surge in prices, particularly now that the nation is under a state of emergency.
“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.