Five government agencies have joined forces to strengthen the capacity of the country’s local price coordinating councils to make sure Filipinos pay the right prices for the products they buy from food to medicines especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Health (DOH), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have forged the joint memorandum circular that will specify the powers and functions of local price coordinating councils in the country as well strengthen the implementation of price act.
The signing took place three days after Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal returned to a stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), which prompted panic buying among consumers and triggered concerns on the lockdown’s possible impact on consumer prices.
Based on the memorandum, these government agencies must conduct regular inspections in both public and private markets, help deputize barangay officials in terms of price monitoring of certain commodities and products, and order them to submit regular reports on the compliance of suggested retail price (SRP).
Agriculture Secretary William Dar, who represented the DA during the signing, said the whole-of-nation approach is important in the price monitoring, especially of agriculture and prime food products.
“Before COVID-19 started, there was already a good effort in price monitoring and enforcement,” Dar said. “That responsibility became more intense because when the pandemic started a lot of people began taking advantage”.
Dar was referring to people hoarding certain goods, including processed food products in groceries and medical supplies.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, for his part, said surprise inspections will be conducted following the signing of the joint memorandum circular.