The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has mobilized its Criminal Intelligence Investigation Division (CRID) to run after individuals and groups of persons engaged in the hoarding and manipulation of prices of prime commodities.
Once arrested, the hoarders and price manipulators will be charged criminally based on last Monday’s directive of Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra.
NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand M. Lavin said in a text message on Friday, Feb. 12, the fielding of CRID agents, headed by Sixto O. Comia as division chief, was in line with Guevarra’s directive contained in a Department Order (DO).
The DO directed the NBI “to conduct an investigation and case build-up on alleged violations of Republic Act No. 7581, otherwise known as the Price Act, and Republic Act No. 3815, as amended, also known as the Revised Penal Code, particularly Article 186 on Monopolies and Combinations in Restraint Trade, specifically on the existence and operation of certain groups allegedly manipulating the supply and price of pork and other basic foodstuff and, if evidence warrants, to file the appropriate charges against persons found responsible therefor.”
It directed NBI Officer-In-Charge Eric B. Distor “to submit a report on the progress of the subject investigation and case build-up directly to the Office of the Secretary within thirty days from receipt hereof, and periodically thereafter.”
The DO was issued after the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the NBI were selected to join the sub-task group on economic intelligence, the creation of which was approved by President Duterte last Feb. 4.
The other members of the task group are representatives of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), National Security Council (NSC), and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).