NBI ordered to probe allegations of meat, foodstuff price manipulation
MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation has been ordered by Justices Secretary Guevarra to investigate whether some groups have manipulated the prices of meat products and other foodstuffs.
According to the department order from Guevarra signed on Monday, NBI Officer-in-Charge Eric Distor is given the authority to conduct an investigation and case build-up on the said matter, especially after a public outcry over high prices of meat and other grocery items in Metro Manila amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Distor and NBI are directed to submit a report within 30 days.
“In the interest of the service and pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 10867 […] the NBI, through Officer-in-Charge Eric Distor, is hereby directed and granted authority to conduct an investigation and case build-up on alleged violations of Republic Act No.7851, otherwise known as the Price Act,” Guevarra said in the order.
“[…] and Republic Act No. 3815, as amended, also known as the Revised Penal Code […] specifically on the existence and operation of certain groups allegedly manipulating the supply and price of pork and other basic foodstuff and, if evidence warrants, to file the appropriate charges against persons found responsible thereof,” he added.
With pork and beef meat prices reaching high prices amid high unemployment rates and the record-setting economic recession for 2020 in the Philippines, many people voice their concerns over the inability to buy meat products and other vegetables and grocery items.
The high prices prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to issue Executive Order No. 124, which declared a 60-day freeze in the selling price of chicken and pork starting the first week of February — although meat sellers were given until Monday to implement the said prices.
Under EO 124, price ceilings for kasim and pigue cuts are set at P270 per kilogram, liempo at P300 per kilogram, while dressed chicken would be at P160. Before the executive order, pork prices go for around P440, and chicken for P200.
However, several meat producers and traders frowned at the proposal, as it supposedly did not consider their livelihoods as the order places their businesses in peril.
As a result, several hog and livestock raisers vowed to place the whole National Capital Region on a pork holiday starting Monday.
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