Metro-wide crackdown on ‘buwayaheros’ starts
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte delivered the first salvo and issued notices of violation to 111 market vendors caught jacking up their goods beyond suggested retail prices. She ordered City Market Development and Administration Department head Procopio Lipaña to strictly monitor “overpricing” and also run after “wholesalers” or “traders” (which I call buwayaheros or buwayang biyaheros) for manipulating food prices. I like Belmonte’s statement saying “Mahal na nga tatagain pa” (Prices are already expensive but heartless overpricing continues).
Today, pork sells at P360 to P400/kg and chicken from P190 to P200/kg. Even vegetables, e.g. eggplant sell at P200/kg while fish, such as galunggong sells at P260/kg and tilapia at P150/kg. Economists are reporting a 275-percent increase in food prices compared to levels a year ago, largely due to supply shortages and recent calamities.
Belmonte’s action comes after she and 16 other mayors in the Metro Manila Council with new MMDA Chair Benhur Abalos, met with Agriculture Secretary William Dar and Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez last Friday. They agreed to activate their local price coordinating councils and implement as soon as possible a Metro-wide crackdown against food price manipulators. At the same time, Kadiwa stores will sell “very cheap and fresh” produce directly from farmers cooperatives and associations in every city or town’s agreed areas.
Initially in the crackdown, all wholesalers, traders, and retailers in public and private markets will be required to register and then subjected to daily monitoring. If found violating local ordinances, LGUs will initiate immediate closure or suspension orders on their business permits/licenses.
National government will in turn impose Price Act fines of P5,000 to P2 million, including imprisonment between five and 15 years.
Tasked to strictly monitor this crackdown are individual “market masters” in public markets in Metro Manila’s 16 cities and one town. These managers have personal knowledge and 24/7 direct familiarity with “palengke personalities” in his area. They report administratively to the LGU city treasurer and to the city administrator and city mayor.
But the first step of crackdown would be the issuance of another presidential price freeze order from which all LGUs will strictly implement “price control” on the palengke level. The previous 60-day price freeze issued by the President in November has already expired Sunday last week.
Now, Secretary Dar wants a price ceiling of P270/kg on kasim pigue, P300/kg for pork liempo and P160/kg for chicken. Secretary Lopez also wants prices set on canned fish, other marine products, locally manufactured instant noodles, bottled water, bread, processed milk, coffee, candles, laundry soap, detergent, and salt.
Once the presidential order is issued, we hope to see market prices dropping and the daily price manipulation of basic commodities by the “buwayaheros” greatly lessened if not eradicated. Let’s wait and see.
We can all feel relieved after BSP clarified that the new P5,000 bill with national hero Lapu-Lapu is only a “commemorative bill” and not for general circulation.
You may not be aware, but grafters in government, whether “pork legislators”, project or contract kickbackers, and money launderers, drug traffickers, criminals such as kidnappers, are salivating for higher currency paper bills. Simply because it would mean larger case transactions and bigger stash in their hidden cash vaults.
Today, a kilo of P1,000 peso bills is unofficially about a million pesos. P5M in cash or 5 kilos fits easily in one’s sling bag. Imagine if these are 5,000 peso bills, that would be carrying P25M around.
I seriously believe that BSP should begin discontinuing our P500 and P1,000 bills like what America did in 1969. “Wikipedia says with “inflation since 1969, the $100 bill is now worth $700.84 in real terms and has been worth more than $500 since 2003.
Of course, our economy is different from theirs but who knows? And why can’t we do it?
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