DTI, DA ramp up price watch as La Niña nears | Inquirer News

DTI, DA ramp up price watch as La Niña nears

DTI, DA ramp up price watch as La Niña nears

Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual —official website of the Presidential Communications Office

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) are ramping up their price monitoring of basic necessities and prime commodities as the country prepares for the coming La Niña weather phenomenon marked by heavier rainfall and possibly more frequent and intense typhoons.

Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual issued the statement after welcoming the strong stance and support from Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. in their joint efforts to combat price manipulators and protect consumers during the upcoming season.


READ: Teodoro preps task force amid La Niña watch


“We are intensifying our efforts to ensure even more effective oversight, particularly as we brace for the impacts of La Niña,” Pascual said.

He added that they were also working closely with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to reactivate the Local Price Coordinating Councils, which he said were crucial partners in their price monitoring initiatives.

Further, the trade chief reminded the public that automatic price control comes into effect in areas declared under a state of calamity due to La Niña.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration raised its La Niña Watch in the country on March 7.

READ: Pagasa raises La Niña Watch as forecasts show early onset

According to the state weather bureau, the transition from the current El Niño to La Niña is already happening, with a shift to a neutral condition— when there is neither El Niño nor La Niña—expected around June, and a switch to La Niña possibly by July.


Enforcing the law

Meanwhile, Pascual said that his office was steadfast in enforcing the law, vowing that any individuals caught engaging in illegal price manipulation would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, echoing the warning Teodoro issued on Sunday.

Under the Price Act (Republic Act No. 7581), penalties for price manipulation include imprisonment of five to 15 years, with fines ranging from P5,000 to P2 million.

Aside from the Department of National Defense (DND) and the DILG, the DTI is also working with the DA to ensure fair prices and protect consumer welfare.

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. said he was “personally monitoring” the prices of agricultural products such as rice and corn.

“Since I assumed the post as secretary of the Department of Agriculture, I am personally monitoring the prices of food items being sold in public markets in different parts of the country,” Tiu Laurel said in Filipino.

He was also responding to Teodoro’s warning that the government would not hesitate to go after hoarders and manipulators who would prey on consumers amid La Niña.

Teodoro, who chairs the government’s Task Force El Niño, said earlier that the DND was ready to provide support to agencies involved in the price monitoring of basic necessities and prime commodities.

“Whatever support is needed by the [DTI] and the [DA], rest assured we are here ready to assist them,” he said.

“Access to affordable basic commodities such as rice is exceptionally crucial to millions of Filipino consumers. Any sudden fluctuation in the price of rice resonates [in] the daily lives of Filipinos,” he added.

Executive Order No. 53, signed by President Marcos in January, reactivated the El Niño task force, which is tasked with developing a comprehensive disaster preparedness and rehabilitation plan for El Niño and La Niña to help the public cope with and minimize their devastating effects.

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Aside from price monitoring, Tiu Laurel also activated the Climate Resilient Agriculture Steering Committee to provide strategic direction and oversee the mobilization of DA resources for climate change response.

TAGS: Department of Agriculture, DTI, La Niña phenomenon

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