By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Traders who take advantage of the recent eruption of Taal Volcano to sell overpriced face masks should be hanged from trees, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Tuesday.
Although in jest, Sotto proposed the hanging of unscrupulous traders for selling anti-particle masks at very high prices following the volcano’s eruption that spewed ash across several provinces and reached Metro Manila.
“’Yan ang mga dapat bitayin (Those are the ones who should be hanged),” Sotto told reporters in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon.
When one reporter pointed out the absence of a death penalty in the country, he said, “Kahit na, ibitay na lang natin, isabit natin sa mga puno (That doesn’t matter, let’s hang them, hang them from trees).”
“Aba’y sinasamantala pa nila ‘yong mga ano (tao) eh, ‘yong mga unscrupulous traders. Meron nga mga namimigay, eh, ‘yon ang mga dapat sabitan ng medalya. Pero ‘yung mga traders na biglang binili lahat ‘yong mga [face] mask pagkatapos binebenta ng mataas, o yung mga biglang tinaas yung presyo, dapat bitayin sa mga puno ‘yon,” he said.
(Because they are taking advantage, those unscrupulous traders. There are some who give out face masks, they should be given medals. But those traders who immediately bought face masks and then sold them at a high price, or those who suddenly increased their prices, they should be hanged from trees.)
The demand for N95 and surgical masks spiked due to the ash fall that reached as far as Metro Manila and other provinces. N95 masks usually cost from P35 to P40, but prices reportedly soared to as high as P200 each.
The Department of Trade and Industry has already warned that they will impose sanctions on businesses and merchants who take advantage of the surge in demand of the medical devices.