Hontiveros to gov’t : Go after ‘big-time profiteers’, not just small vendors,

Published February 2, 2021, 6:47 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday called on the government to also chase “big-time profiteers” who have allegedly been manipulating the price of commodities.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros
(Albert Calvelo / Senate PRIB / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Hontiveros said that while the intention behind the 60-day price freeze ordered by President Duterte on pork and chicken products was laudable, she raised her concern that it will put market vendors on the losing end.

“Maganda naman ang layunin ng moratorium sa price increase sa mga bilihin. Pero kailangang siguraduhin na hindi maiipit at pagdidiskitahan ang mga manininda natin sa palengke (The objective behind the moratorium on the price increase is good. But we have to make sure that our vendors in markets will not be the victims),” she said in a video message sent to media.

“Baka kasi sa farm gate, assembler, processor, sa cold storage, o sa byahe papuntang palengke nangyayari ang pagtaas ng presyo (Maybe the price increases are happening at the farm gate, the assember, processor, cold storage, or the delivery going to the market),” she noted.

“Bakit ang mga maliliit na tindero at tindera ang ituturo at maiipit kung sa mga mas naunang transaksyon posibleng nangyayari ang pagtaas? Paano nga naman kung ang ibinabagsak na sa kanila ay mahal na paninda naman talaga? (Why would we pin the blame to small vendors when the preceeding transactions could have caused the increase? What if they are really just receiving the products that are already expensive?),” she continued.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar said that while there is already an existing limitation in the supply of pork due to the African Swine Fever (ASF), he claimed that wholesalers and traders were causing the prices to jack up.

Hontiveros said the DA could adopt the Department of Trade and Industry’s recommendation to impose a suggested retail price (SRP) not only on retailers, all the levels of the supply value chain to ensure compliance with the price cap.

“This is how the axe can be made to fall precisely where it should,” she said.

She also recommended to tap the DTI and the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) for strict monitoring and imposing possible sanctions on violators. 

During the joint Senate committee hearing on rising food prices Monday, February 1, senators appealed to the DA to strengthen its surveillance on the prices agricultural products.