30 firms accused of violating price freeze-A A +A
By Mia A. Aznar
Thursday, October 31, 2013
SOME 30 violators of the price freeze of basic commodities will face an investigation after monitoring teams of the Department of Trade and Industry found them selling certain goods at higher rates than the suggested retail prices.
DTI-7 Director Asteria Caberte, in the agency’s Tumblr page, said teams from their field offices in Cebu and Bohol conducted monitoring in over 200 retail outlets and found 30 establishments in violation of the price freeze order.
The DTI imposed a price freeze in the provinces of Cebu and Bohol last Oct. 18, following the magnitude 7.2 earthquake two days before. The price freeze will be in effect until the state of calamity is lifted from both provinces.
Monitoring teams checked the prices and supplies of retail establishments selling basic commodities to ensure these were available to residents of areas most affected by the earthquake. The DTI set the prices as of Oct. 18 and warned of administrative sanctions if any retailer sold goods with prices over the suggested retail prices.
Section 6 of Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act specifies that when an area was proclaimed or declared a disaster area or under a state of calamity, prices of basic necessities in an area shall automatically be frozen at their prevailing prices or placed under automatic price control. The list of commodities and their prevailing prices were published in local and national newspapers following the price freeze.
“We did check the prices and supplies of basic goods in 236 outlets. From this exercise, we found 30 retailers – six retail establishments and 24 retail stores – that are selling more than the dictated prices of basic necessities should have and as such, we have issued them their notices of violation that summon each one of them to explain why they were selling much more than the set prevailing prices,” said Caberte.
The DTI-Cebu teams monitored establishments in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, Danao and Talisay and in the seven municipalities of Consolacion, Compostela, Liloan, Carmen, Catmon, Naga, and Minglanilla. At the same time, the DTI-Bohol checked the retailers in Tagbiliran City and 28 municipalities of Clarin, Cortes, Catigbian, Alburquerque, Ubay, San Miguel, Talibon, Sevilla, Batuan, Bilar; Carmen, Corella, Balilihan, Sikatuna, Dagohoy, Getafe, Trinidad, Loboc, Loon, Maribojoc, San Isidro, Calape, Buenavista, Inabanga, Tubigon, Baclayon, Sagbayan, and Antequera.
“These 30 establishments shall undergo due process and DTI CWBRG will provide the necessary assistance to DTI-Central Visayas by sending mediation/adjudication officers to handle the cases. In this case, the DTI-Central Visayas can focus in monitoring the market and in enforcing the set prevailing prices for basic necessities,” said DTI-Consumer Welfare and Business Regulation Group (CWBRG) officer-in-charge Atty. Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba.
Section 5 of the Price Act provides an administrative fine of up to P1 million and/or a maximum imprisonment of 10 years for violations of price freezes. The provision calls it profiteering and considered an illegal act of price manipulation.
Dimagina assured that the DTI’s regional and provincial offices are working with local government units and other agencies through the Local Price Coordinating Councils.
To further assist areas affected by the quake, the DTI 7 held a series of Diskwento Caravans in the hardest hit areas of Bohol beginning last week. The Diskwento Caravan is a project of the DTI where basic necessities and prime commodities are sold at discounted prices.
Caravans were held in the towns of Loon, Antequera, Maribojoc and Tubigon.
Products featured include canned goods, bath soaps, shampoo, coffee, milk, noodles, rice, biscuits, eggs, bread, dressed chicken, bottled water and cleansing agents.
The Alturas Group of Companies, Bohol Quality Corporation and AH Shoppers’ Mart, Gardenia Bakeries Phils. Inc. were named as some of the participating retailers while the National Food Authority (NFA) was present to sell NFA rice to consumers.
Caberte said they are grateful for the support of local retailers who were willing to participate in the Diskwento Caravan.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 01, 2013.