‘Unscrupulous’ sellers of overpriced masks may face charges, warns DTI
MANILA, Philippines — Businesses and individuals taking advantage of the public’s urgent need of masks may face charges, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) warned Monday.
DTI said it already dispatched teams to monitor and check on the price of N95 masks, which reportedly soared to as high as P200 each from its usual price of P25 to P30. Demand for N95 masks surged after Taal Volcano spewed a giant column of ash and steam on Sunday afternoon, causing extensive ashfall that reached as far as Metro Manila and some provinces in northern Luzon a few hours later.
The Department of Health has earlier cautioned the public of possible health risks due to exposure to volcanic ash.
DTI issued the warning after receiving complaints that prices of N95 masks unduly increased following the Taal Volcano’s phreatic eruption or steam-driven explosion. Volcanic activity continues in Taal as of this posting.
“It has been reported that some retailers have jacked-up their prices of face masks and gas masks, taking advantage of the surge in demand of these products due to the recent eruption of Taal Volcano,” DTI said.
“DTI will not hesitate to file administrative and criminal charges against unscrupulous business entities and individuals, who capitalize on the consumers’ urgent need for their own profit.”
“Those found to have unreasonably increased their prices for gas masks, face masks and other similar items, which act is tantamount to profiteering, shall be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law,” it added.
DTI said prices of manufactured basic necessities and prime commodities should remain unchanged as of the published September 31, 2019, DTI Suggested Retail Price Bulletin.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has placed Taal Volcano under Alert Level 4, which means that “hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.” Taal Volcano is the second most active volcano in the country.