Prices of food, basic goods frozen in Luzon

Published November 18, 2020, 10:51 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

A price freeze on rice, eggs, fresh pork and beef, essential medicines, household liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and other basic goods and commodities will be enforced in the entire Luzon after being placed under a state of calamity.

Shoppers wearing protective masks shop for vegetables in a market during a partial lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus in Quezon City, Metro Manila, the Philippines, on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (Veejay Villafranca/Bloomberg / MANILA BULLETIN)

The calamity declaration, which seeks to hasten relief and rehabilitation efforts in typhoon-hit communities, will remain in effect until lifted by President Duterte.

“Under a state of the calamity, there is an automatic price freeze of basic commodities for all implementing agencies of the Price Act for all areas declared under a state of calamity,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

Among the basic goods under price freeze are rice, corn, cooking oil, dried and other marine products, fresh eggs, fresh pork, beef and vegetables, root crops, sugar, and fresh fruits.

Prices of canned fish and other marine products, processed milk, coffee, laundry soap, detergent, candles, bread, salt, potable water in bottles and containers, locally manufactured instant noodles will also be placed under control in the calamity areas.

Roque said firewood and charcoal, medicines classified essential by the Department of Health (DOH), household LPG and kerosene will also be under price freeze.

Expanded price freeze sought In addition to these basic commodities, consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer, Inc. (LKI) has urged the government to expand the price freeze to include gasoline, diesel, and construction materials.

In a letter to the Departments of Trade and Industry, Agriculture, Energy, and Health, LKI President Victorio Mario Dimagiba suggested that also fuel, construction materials, and other essential goods be included in the price freeze.

Among these are manufactured and processed products, agricultural, marine products, essential medicines, LPG, and kerosene.

Aside from the expansion of the price freeze coverage, LKI also urged all implementing agencies to publish the list of basic necessities and their prevailing prices as soon as possible to ensure unscrupulous traders do not take advantage of the situation.

“Prevailing prices should be lower than the suggested retail prices,” said Dimagiba.

Declaration of a state of calamity automatically freezes prices of basic necessities and prime commodities for a period of 60 days or until lifted by the President.

In addition, the consumer advocacy group has urged all agencies to enforce the price freeze continuously during the state of calamity with the participation of the local price coordinating councils.

Malacañang released Proclamation No. 1015 declaring a state of calamity in the entire Luzon island group following the devastation caused by the recent powerful typhoons “Quinta,” “Rolly,” and “Ulysses.”

Under the proclamation, all government agencies are directed “to implement and execute rescue, recovery, relief and rehabilitation work in accordance with pertinent operational plans and directives.”

They must also coordinate and augment the basic services and facilities of affected local government units.

The President has also directed law enforcement agencies, with the support from the military to take measures to ensure peace and order in the affected areas.

“The Executive ensures that all departments and concerned agencies are working together towards the rescue, recovery, relief and rehabilitation of affected areas and residents,” Roque said.

Apart from the price control measures, the calamity declaration will also afford the national government and LGUs ample leeway to use calamity funds and provide basic services to the affected people.