Traders warned on hiking prices of essential commodities amid calamity

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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police on Thursday warned unscrupulous traders and businessmen who will take advantage of the calamity situation to hike prices of basic and essential commodities.

Police Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP spokesman, said police officers have been ordered to support the implementation of the Department of Trade and Industry’s automatic “price freeze” on basic good in areas declared under state of calamity.

He said police regional offices down to municipal stations were instructed to monitor the prices of goods in their respective areas to ensure proper implementation of Republic Act 7581 or The Price Act.

“Police units in disaster-affected areas of Luzon were alerted to assist DTI and the Local Government Units (LGUs) in monitoring market conditions against possible trade and price control violations,” Sindac said, noting that its proper implementation shall preserve “peace and order amidst the current calamity.”

The NCRPO, Police Regional Office 3 and 4A are the frontrunners in this effort of the PNP for the areas concerned are under their supervision.

Sindac said violators of the Price Act may face imprisonment for a period of not less than one year, but more than 10 years, or a fine of not less than P5,000, but not more than P1,000,000.

PNP said Sections 6 and 7 of Republic Act 7581 or The Price Act, expressly provides that “Prices of basic necessities in an area shall automatically be frozen at their prevailing prices or placed under automatic price control whenever that area is proclaimed or declared a disaster area or under a state of calamity; and a price ceiling may be imposed on any basic necessity or prime commodity considering the impendency, existence, or effects of a calamity.”

Basic necessities collectively refer to rice, corn, bread, fresh dried and canned goods and other marine products;

Fresh pork, beef and poultry meat; fresh eggs, fresh and processed milk; fresh vegetables; root crops; coffee; sugar; cooking oil; salt; laundry soap; detergents; firewood; charcoal; candles; and drugs classified as essential by the Department of Health.

Aside from securing the implementation of the Price Act, police authorities were also instructed to be on the look-out against criminals who may take advantage of homes temporarily abandoned by families affected by the deluge.

Police Regional, Provincial, City and Municipal Offices were instructed by PNP chief, Director General Alan Purisima, to intensify law enforcement operations to deter looters in flood-hit communities.

Police units were instructed to mobilize local neighborhood watch groups and force multipliers that will assist in efforts to guard the abandoned communities, Sindac said.

He also said PNP units were deployed to ensure unhampered passage of relief supplies, market stocks and essential commodities, as well as engineering equipment and materials for infrastructure rehabilitation.

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