635 arrested for hoarding, profiteering, price manipulation amid virus crisis
MANILA, Philippines — Authorities have so far arrested 635 individuals for hoarding, profiteering, and/or manipulation of prices of basic goods and medical supplies amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis gripping the country.
This was according to President Rodrigo Duterte’s third weekly report to Congress on the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act which granted him additional powers to deal with the pandemic.
Duterte said in his report that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has conducted 2,415 price monitoring activities from April 2 to 9, 2020.
Ninety-eight percent of the 12,602 monitored entities were found to be compliant, the report noted.
“During the same period, the DTI issued 150 Letters of Inquiry and 71 Notices of Violation, and launched a total of 888 operations in connection with its campaign on anti-hoarding/anti-profiteering,” Duterte reported.
Of the number of operations, 107 are joint operations of the DTI with the Philippine National Police-Crime Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
The DTI, meanwhile, has included personal protective equipment and other medical-related products in the price monitoring of basic needs and prime commodities “(d)ue to the surge in demand,” the report read.
“Around 528 firms have been monitored to ensure that they are following the pertinent provisions of fair trade laws,” Duterte added.
The President further reported that 2,987 online consumer complaints have been acted upon, 594 of which have been endorsed to the PNP-CIDG and the NBI, 231 to the Food and Drug Administration and 2,162 to other concerned agencies.
“The joint action of the DTI, the NBI and the PNP on these online complaints have resulted in the arrest of 72 suspects and confiscation of around P6 million worth of paraphernalia,” the report further read.
According to the President, the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has already coordinated with the DTI “to enforce measures to protect the people from, among others, cartels, monopolies or other combinations in restraint of trade affecting the supply, distribution, and movement of food, medicine, and other essential goods and services.”
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