By Malu Manar
KIDAPAWAN CITY – An upsurge in the prices of basic commodities, and even on tricycle fare, has been reported in North Cotabato despite calls by the government for local traders to exercise restraint amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis the country is going through.
Nenita Maghari, a resident of Barangay Poblacion in Makilala town, said a kilo of corn has gone up by at least P5. Just last week, she said the price was at P21 per kilo, but when she bought another kilo on Monday, it was already priced at P26.
A kilo of Double V Diamond rice is now being sold in the market here at P56. A week ago, a kilo was only P49. The Double V Diamond is considered one of the best rice brands in the local market.
At the Kidapawan City Mega Market, a tray of medium-sized eggs is now being sold at P235 to P240 compared to only P175 last week, according to Josef Sumaya from Barangay Singao here.
Even the tricycle fare here has spiked to at least three times more from its rate last week when the city was still not under community quarantine.
Cristina Sumagaysay of Barangay Manongol said the tricycle fare increase from P11 per passenger to P40 starting Monday.
“How can we survive if things like this go on? We no longer have enough resources to buy even the basic goods, then, we are faced with an exorbitant tricycle fare,” she said.
Ferdinand Cabiles, acting provincial director of the Cotabato Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), said his office was regularly conducting monitoring of prices of basic goods.
This, however, did not include the price of rice.
Cabiles said the monitoring of prices of rice was the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture (DA) under the Price Act.
Meanwhile, the city government, through its Local Price Coordinating Council (LPCC), said that it has been regularly monitoring the prices of basic goods regularly since last week.
And the LPCC has yet to issued astatement if, indeed, there were traders who were taking opportunity of the dire situation that the COVID-19 crisis has created, according to City Information Officer Atty. Jose Paolo Evangelista.
Jabby Omandac, president of the Federation of Kidapawan Integrated Tricycle Association (F-KITA) admitted there were tricycle drivers who would charge their passengers by at least three times higher than its original fare.
“We know how difficult the situation is. Our drivers have a hard time earning money at this time because they are limited to only two passengers at each travel,” said Omandac.
Under the Executive Order Number 30 issued on March 21 by City Mayor Joseph Evangelista, each tricycle is allowed to carry only two passengers to observe the physical distancing of at least a meter apart.