NINE food retailers were given letters of inquiry (LOIs) due to profiteering by the Department of Agriculture - Davao Region (DA-Davao) through its Agribusiness Marketing Assistance Division (Amad), an official said.

“Naa tay mga naobserbahan or namonitor na (We had monitored stores which) I don't know if you’re familiar with pagtimbang sa bugas na below the 25 kilos na naa sa iyang label (wrong declaration of the rice’s actual weight, for instance), that’s a clear violation of section 5 of RA [Republic Act] 7581 which is under profiteering,” Da-Davao's Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (Amad) officer Alex Sibuan said.

Sibuan said they had sent nine LOIs to stores located in Toril and Bago Aplaya. These stores were reported by concerned citizens.

“‘Yung reason nila is para mabenta nila ng mas mababa (The vendors say they need to sell it to a lower price), which is definitely not valid,” Sibuan said.

“Good thing after the LOI (after we sent them LOIs) they changed naman,” he added.

Under Section 5 of RA Number 7581, profiteering is defined as the sale or offering for sale of any basic necessity or prime commodity which are being priced “grossly in excess of its true worth”.

“There shall be prima facie evidence of profiteering whenever a basic necessity or prime commodity being sold: (a) has no price tag; (b) is misrepresented as to its weight or measurement; (c) is adulterated or diluted; or (d) whenever a person raises the price of any basic necessity or prime commodity he sells or offers for sale to the general public by more than ten percent (10%) of its price in the immediately preceding month,” the law states.

As part of administrative procedure, DA-Amad can conduct sending of LOIs to those stores reported to them and will be under monitoring. If no correction was made after, they will call the store owner’s attention and report to DA-Amad for physical mediation.

DA-Amad may also release a cease and desist order for not more than 10 days, as the law states.

“For the record, wala pa man nuon ta naabot ana na level nga na-cease under admin procedure,” Sibuan said.

He said aside from responding from concerned citizens’ reports, DA-Amad are constantly monitoring prices and surveillance of prices in Davao Region’s public markets.

“We are also closely monitoring basic necessities and commodities as far as monitoring is concerned,” Sibuan said. ICE