By Chito Chavez and Hannah Torregoza
Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge (OIC) Eduardo M. Año has strongly batted for the immediate reactivation of the Local Price Coordinating Councils (LPCCs) in the country to help put a cap on exorbitant price increases in prime commodities.
Año directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to enforce the law and uplift consumer rights to protect them from unscrupulous traders.
He issued the directive after receiving reports from regional and field offices on the alleged spike in the cost of goods in some local government units (LGUs) especially following the series of weather disturbances in the country in the past weeks.
Año maintained the LPCCs should conduct regular inspection of public and private markets, address reported advances made by local traders, and deputize barangay officials and non-government organizations (NGOs) to monitor abnormal price increases.
He also asked LPCCs to conduct an in-depth analysis on the causes of price adjustments, suggest steps to correct unwarranted price increases and supply shortages, and recommend suggested retail prices to government agencies.
The DILG chief also said the PNP should closely coordinate with concerned agencies of the government and LGUs and be more proactive in enforcing Republic Act (RA) 10623 which amended the Price Act, RA 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act, and other related laws.
RA 10623 mandates the provision of protection to consumers by stabilizing the prices of basic necessities and prime commodities and by prescribing measures against undue price increases during emergency situations and like occasions.
The act also prohibits Anti-Competitive Agreements between or among competitors such as restricting competition as to price, or its components, or other terms of trade; and fixing price at an auction or in any form of bidding including cover bidding, bid suppression, bid rotation and market allocation and other analogous practices of bid manipulation.
Año also called on concerned local chief executives, the DILG Regional Directors, and field offices to continue to report incidents of hoarding and unreasonable price manipulations of essential commodities in certain localities.
“Our LGUs, barangays and the DILG regional and field offices should make active coordination with agencies like the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to thwart unnecessary price adjustments and hoarding of primary goods like rice,” he said.
Composing LPCCs at the provincial, city, and municipal level are concerned local chief executives, representatives from consumers, agricultural producers, manufacturing and retail sectors, as well as LGU functionaries, among others.
Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon on Sunday urged the government to boost agriculture infrastructure like the Jalaur dam project to prevent rice shortage and increase productivity.
Drilon on Sunday said the rice shortage that hit some parts of the country could be attributed to poor agriculture infrastructure that stymied the growth of the country’s agriculture sector.
“The government should take a closer look at the state of agriculture infrastructure in the country if it wants to enhance agricultural productivity in order to prevent rice shortage and stop unscrupulous traders from taking advantage of the situation,” Drilon said.
Drilon lamented it is unfortunate that the Philippines, considered an agricultural country, has no sufficient rice on the table, which is a staple food of millions of Filipinos.
“Why did it happen? Because our farmers do not get the support they need in terms of infrastructure resulting in low harvest each year. We must therefore provide them infrastructure that can boost their production,” the senator pointed out.
To address this, the lawmaker said the government should include in its “Build, build, build” program more infrastructure support, particularly in the agriculture sector. One example of this much-needed infrastructure is the construction of the P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project Phase II (JRMP II).
The signing of the contract for the construction of the project, between the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the project’s contractor, Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd., is scheduled for September 3, 2018, at 9 a.m. (Monday) at the National Irrigation Office in Quezon City.