THE City Council of Cagayan de Oro passed on Monday an ordinance requiring each barangay council to designate a Consumer Welfare Officer as the city steps up its efforts in protecting consumers’ rights.
Councilor George Goking said the officer will cater to the barangay constituents’ complaints on matters pertaining to commodities.
“We go down to the barangay levels, we need their help in our intensified monitoring. Naay complaints gaabot sa ako (There are complaints that reached me), we have to find if it’s true or not because we need to follow due process, kung madakpan naay penalty (if they violate they will be penalized), but if their violation is down serious, we can recommend more sanctions,” Goking said.
The new ordinance was approved by the city council even as the city is still in the midst of a state of calamity following tropical storm Vinta which devastated villages near the Cagayan River.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) last December 29, 2017 informed all consumers and retailers that Section 6 of the Price Act states that prices in an area proclaimed under a state of calamity shall be automatically frozen at their prevailing prices.
Goking, however, said that despite the DTI advisory, he still received complaints about alleged price increases of basic commodities.
“This is why each barangay should designate their own consumer welfare officer because we cannot depend only on the efforts of the DTI or of the city government, the barangay’s help is stronger and will surely help us to find these violators,” he added.
Basic necessities that are under the price freeze include canned sardines, milk, coffee, detergent or laundry soap, noodles, bread, salt, and water.
Goking also disclosed that along with the City Price Coordinating Council (CPCC) and DTI, they will conduct surprise inspections to major grocery stores to verify reports of alleged violations.
“Anytime now and next week, we will visit retail stores but the areas, we will not announce to make sure that prices are frozen while we are under a state of calamity. The team will be led by Atty. Egay Uy, DTI, and myself to monitor the inspection, we already have plans where to make these visits,” Goking said.
Earlier, Uy, head of the CPCC said consumers can report the retailers who are manipulating prices to the DTI-Misamis Oriental to call 857-4034.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 17, 2018.