Consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) has urged for a price freeze nationwide on basic necessities and prime commodities (BNPCs) following the one year extension of the state of national emergency.
LKI President Victorio Mario Dimagiba said this following the issuance of Proclamation No. 1218 by the President on Sept. 10, 2021 extending the national state of calamity effective Sept. 13, 2021 to September 12, 2022, which is beyond Duterte’s term, which ends on June next year.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, however, said there is no need for price freeze because the President’s order is just an extension of the state of national calamity declared last year.
“No price freeze because it is only an extension,” he said. Instead, he said prices of BNPCs must be maintained within the recently issued suggested retail prices (SRPs). The DTI allowed higher SRPs of BNPCs by 2-5 percent.
But Dimagiba explained that “A declaration of state of national calamity will automatically mean a price freeze, and if there is no price freeze and only a guidance on SRP as the price freeze, that will be a violation of the law. The Price Act requires that prices of basic necessity are automatically frozen at their prevailing prices before the declaration of the calamity.”
Dimagiba, a former DTI Undersecretary handling consumer welfare, believes DTI owes to the consumers to recall the SRP increases promptly which was published and dated August 29, 2021 since they are yet to be effective 15 day after publication or on September 13, The President’s instruction was issued on September 10, 2021.
Further Dimagiba said that BNPC regulators should understand the pandemic calamity. He said the pandemic is a continuing calamity and the price freeze should be coterminous to the declaration which is one year and nationwide coverage.
Dimagiba urged for the Price Council to publish the price freeze amount like sugar, rice of different varieties, pork, chicken, bread and others immediately for the information of the manufacturers, distributors, traders, retailers and the consumers.
“When prices remain high, the need of a price ceiling is always authorized by the Price Act,” he said.
LKI pointed out too that food regulators should help hapless consumers as inflation rose 4.9 percent in August.
He said LKI will present the issue to the Price Council members and to the Committee of Trade and Industry of Congress and the Senate for any and appropriate action.