Price monitoring goes on despite price freeze expiration

Published October 26, 2020, 3:46 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is monitoring the prices of goods in the markets even after the expiration of the price freeze imposed during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this photo taken on September 2, 2020, a shopper (L) wearing a face shield checks out at a supermarket in Manila. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

In his Monday presser, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that the government cannot just impose another price freeze even though the declaration of a State of Emergency in the country was extended.

“Alam niyo po merong maximum kasi na (We have a maximum) period when we can impose a price freeze which is 60 days upon the declaration of calamity, emergency, and other circumstances,” he said.

“Hindi naman po pwedeng i-impose ito nang paulit-ulit miski na-extend na yung declaration of State of Emergency noong Setyembre for another six months (We cannot just repeatedly impose it even though we are under the State of Emergency for another six months),” he added.

Roque said that what the government can do is monitor the prices of goods so that they will not go over the suggested retail price (SRP).

“For the time being po na napaso na yung price freeze, meron po tayong suggested retail price na pinatutupad (that the price freeze has expired, we have a suggested retail price being implemented) by way of [a] price ceiling,” he said.

“Ito po ay minomonitor ng DTI at ang mga lalabag meron din pong ipapataw na kaparusahan (This is being monitored by the DTI and those who will violate it will be punished),” he added.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Saturday assured the public that the government is undertaking measures to ensure that the prices of basic commodities will not spike as the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, especially now that the Christmas season is inching closer.

“Actually ang DTI naman hindi lang sa pagkain kung hindi pati sa iba’t-ibang essential items, goods. Nagmo-monitor naman ang DTI (The DTI is monitoring the prices of not just food, but all products),” he said.

“During public calamity and public crisis tulad ng meron sa atin ngayon, puwede namang maglagay ng mga price controls kung kinakailangan. Puwede namang i-operationalize ‘yan tulad ng nangyari noong kaka-start ng COVID dito sa atin (like the one we have right now, we can impose a price control if necessary. We can do that like what we did when the pandemic hit us),” he added.

He said that the government has lifted the price freeze on goods but the DTI and the Department of Agriculture continue to monitor the prices of goods to prevent hoarding, artificial shortages of goods, and price manipulation.