The Department of Agriculture (DA) will make sure that the price freeze on some agricultural and fishery commodities is “strictly” observed in Luzon amid the declaration of state calamity in the region, which was badly battered by a series of typhoons.
As this happens, the agency has also allotted P6 billion to provide emergency interventions in the agriculture sector, which already incurred more than P11-billion worth of damage due to Typhoon Ulysses, Quinta, and Rolly.
In a statement, DA said it will coordinate with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and local government units’ (LGUs) respective local price coordinating councils (LPCCs) for the implementation of suggested retail price (SRP) over certain farm products.
“The price freeze on basic agricultural and fishery products forms part of the government’s continuing efforts to ensure availability of basic commodities at reasonable prices, particularly in areas severely affected by the recent typhoons,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte placed the entire Luzon under a state of calamity due to the extensive damage caused by three successive typhoons.
The list of basic agri-fishery commodities per kilogram (kg) covered by the price freeze includes: Milkfish (cage-cultured) – P169; Tilapia (pond-cultured, fresh-chilled) – P120; Round scad or galunggong (imported) – P180; Round scad or galunggong (local) – P140; Pork (pigue/kasim) – P260; Pork (liempo) – P280; Chicken (whole) – P130; Sugar (refined) – P50; Sugar (brown) – P45; Red onion (fresh); P100; Garlic (fresh, imported) – P100; Rice (imported): special – P52; premium – P43; well-milled – P38; Rice (local): special – P53; premium – P45; well-milled – P40; Chicken egg (medium) – P6.50 per piece; Cooking oil (30 ml) – P25; and Cooking oil (1 liter) – P50.
Dar reminded traders, retailers, and consumers that under Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act of the Philippines, price control on basic food commodities and basic necessities is automatically implemented in areas declared under a state of calamity for a period of not more than 60 days.
He warns traders from exploiting the situation, stressing that the DA, DTI, DILG, and LPCCs will not hesitate to file cases against them if they engage in manipulating supply, hoarding, and jacking up prices, to the disadvantage of consumers.
Any person or entity violating the Price Act shall be charged accordingly, with fines ranging from P5,000 to P2 million, and imprisonment of not less than five years but not more than 15 years.
Meanwhile, Dar said DA is allotting more than P6-billion worth of agricultural and fishery inputs, seeds, fertilizers, and implements, financial aid and zero-interest emergency and livelihood loans, and crop insurance to assist farmers and fishers severely affected by typhoons Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses.
This, after the Philippine agriculture sector so far incurred a combined P10.5-billion worth of damage and losses due to the three successive typhoons that ravaged Luzon and parts of the Visayas.
Dar also ordered all DA and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ (BFAR) regional directors to monitor unaffected production areas and assess the viability of transporting farm and fishery commodities to Metro Manila and other major consumption centers.
He then instructed the DA’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) to deploy Kadiwa stores to augment food supply and ensure accessibility of affordable, nutritious food in typhoon-stricken areas.
He said fresh produce like vegetables and fruits should be prioritized for distribution to affected families.
“We are committed to provide adequate access to affordable, safe, and nutritious food to our kababayans, who were adversely affected by the recent calamities,” Dar said.