DTI orders crackdown vs profiteers

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez has ordered DTI regional offices to run after business owners who are profiteering and unduly hiking prices of consumer goods in typhoon- hit areas in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez

“I have instructed our Consumer Protection Group and Regional Offices to immediately check the retailers and apprehend business owners who are profiteering and unduly increasing prices of consumer goods especially at this time when we are recovering from the damage caused by Typhoon Odette,” Lopez said in a statement following reports of overpricing of some consumer goods in the aftermath of the Super Typhoon Rai, known in the Philippines as Odette.

Lopez, however, said that based on DTI reports, suggested retail prices (SRPs) for basic necessities and prime commodities are being complied with in major groceries and supermarkets. But the trade chief also noted of reports on overpricing of bottled water and even power generator sets in Cebu and Negros Occidental.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said at the Laging Handa Public Briefing that certain goods, including power generator sets, were being sold twice the usual price.

According to Lopez, profiteering means the price of a product went up by 10 percent higher in one week.

“We will not allow the public to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals and we will not hesitate to file charges against these individuals to the full extent of the law,” he said.

For unfair and unconscionable acts or practices by sellers or suppliers, violators can be fined P300,000 and imprisonment of one year.

Lopez has encouraged the public to report to the DTI (Hotline 1384 or email to [email protected] or text 0917 834 3330) the stores that are overpricing and bring proof so they can be penalized.

“Business owners should not take advantage of the already unfortunate condition of our people,” he said.

Several provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao suffered from Super Typhoon Rai, known as Odette in the Philippines. As of Monday, Dec. 20, the national police reported 375 people were killed, 56 missing, and 500 more injured.

Billions of damages, particularly in agriculture, have also been reported, but government is still updating their figures.

Typhoon Rai is the 15th storm to hit the country this year. The strongest storm of 2021made landfall on Thursday, Dec. 16 at 1:30 p.m. local time on Siargao Island in southeastern Philippines with winds at 160 mph and several landfalls at categories 3 and 4.

Some people compared Rai to Super Typhoon Yolanda, which

made landfall in the Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013 as a Category 5 storm. Yolanda’s fury affected more than 14 million people across 44 provinces, displacing 4.1 million people, killing more than 6,000 people and leaving 1,800 missing.

Typhoom Rai made its ninth and last landfall on Dec. 17 around 3 pm in Roxas, Palawan, before moving into the West Philippine Sea.

More than 300,000 people evacuated ahead of landfall and millions affected. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said more than 10,000 villages were in the path of the typhoon.

The full impact of the disaster is not yet known due to difficulties accessing locations, communication transmission outages and the initial focus on search and rescue.

Siargao Island is heavily damaged with extensive destruction according to officials. The Red Cross is reporting that at least 140,000 people have been severely affected as houses have been destroyed and many villages left underwater.

Several provinces in Mindanao and Visayas are still without electricity and water, and telecommunication services.

Government agencies are also scrambling to bring relief to the victims and restore power in these two island groups. The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, which operates the power transmission lines, has been on working double time to restore power but said it would take months to fully restore electricity connections.