MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said on Saturday that a price freeze is in effect in several areas in six provinces badly hit by Super Typhoon Karding (international name: Noru), reminding traders that no upward price adjustments on basic necessities can be made for two months.
Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said these areas, where a state of calamity has been declared by their respective local governments, include the whole province of Nueva Ecija, Dingalan in Aurora, San Miguel in Bulacan, Concepcion in Tarlac and Macabebe in Pampanga.
All basic necessities
In Quezon province, Castelo said areas under the price stabilization measure include the municipalities of General Nakar, as well as Polillo, Patnanungan, Panukulan, Jomalig, Burdeos in Polillo island.
“A price freeze means that the prices of all basic necessities, goods which are considered our primary needs, their prices cannot go up. Retailers can bring down the prices but not increase them,” Castelo, who heads the department’s consumer protection group, said in Filipino during the DTI’s Saturday program at the dzBB radio station.
She said that the price freeze would be in effect for a nonextendable period of 60 days.
“After 60 days, even if the state of calamity has not been lifted yet, the price freeze will automatically be lifted,” she said.
LPG, kerosene, too
According to the DTI, some examples of food items considered as basic necessities are rice, corn, fresh eggs, fresh pork, beef and poultry meat.
Also included in this category are canned fish and other marine products, processed milk, coffee, laundry soap, detergent, candles, bread and salt.
According to Rino Abad, director of the Department of Energy’s Oil Industry Management Bureau, there will also be a 15-day price freeze on liquefied petroleum gas and kerosene in areas where a state of calamity has been declared.
Under Republic Act No. 7581, or The Price Act of 1992, the penalties for price manipulation are imprisonment for five to 15 years, with fines ranging from P5,000 to P2 million.
Meanwhile, those found violating the price ceiling face prison time of one year to 10 years, as well as fines ranging from P5,000 to P1 million.
Karding made landfall in Central Luzon on Sept. 25, causing the deaths of at least 12 people and wreaking damage to agriculture worth at least P3.07 billion, according to the latest government tally.