The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has imposed a price freeze on basic goods amid the public’s panic buying due to the increasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines.
The DTI said prices of basic necessities would not increase for 60 days unless President Rodrigo Duterte lifts the declaration of a state of a public health emergency.
“The DTI is closely coordinating with other government agencies, manufacturers, and retailers of basic goods to ensure availability and continuous supply in the market. Retailers are reminded that there should be no price movement on these goods while the price freeze is in effect,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Energy also set a price freeze for kerosene and household liquefied petroleum gas from March 10 until March 24.
DTI identifies the following as basic goods:
- canned fish and other marine products
- locally manufactured instant noodles
- bottled water
- processed milk
- laundry soap
DTI imposes price freeze amid COVID-19 threat
On the other hand, the Department of Agriculture covers basic agricultural goods such as rice, corn, cooking oil, fresh, dried, and other marine products, fresh eggs, fresh pork, beef and poultry meat, fresh milk, fresh vegetables, root crops, sugar, and fresh fruits.
“The Department continues to intensify its monitoring and enforcement activities on the prices of basic goods in the market, including N-95, N-88, and other similar face masks,” Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said.
DTI also warned those who will take advantage of the COVID-19 threat. Those who would hoard and sell overpriced medical devices and products like alcohol, medicines, alcohol/sanitizers, and N-88, N-95, and other similar face masks will face criminal charges.
“We have recommended to the President the issuance of an Executive Order (EO) for the easier procedure of the filing of cases and imposition of stiffer penalties for profiteering. The proposed EO will arm the DTI, together with the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation, with visitorial powers to address the issue on prices and supply of medical products,” Lopez said.