(File photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo R. Duterte said business owners profiteering from consumer goods in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette may be arrested.

In his prerecorded Talk to the People on Monday night, Duterte threatened to order the arrest of business owners involved in the overpricing of basic goods and construction supplies in areas hit by the typhoon.

“Tell us if there has been a violation during this time because we will identify them and the Philippine National Police, we will ask them to arrest the hoarders and people who are taking advantage of the situation,” Duterte told Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

He emphasized the need to address profiteering, noting that people are already suffering.

“We have to put a stop to this and probably we can go ahead and cap the prices of the goods available especially medicine,” he added.

Lopez, for his part, confirmed that there were indeed business owners taking advantage of the people affected by the typhoon.

He said he already requested the PNP to be on the lookout against businessmen hiking the prices of goods.

“Ang order sa ating mga enforcers ay mag-aresto ng overpricing (Our order to enforcers is really to arrest those overpricing),” he said, noting that there have been many apprehensions made, particularly in Bohol and Cebu.

To date, Lopez said the DTI has so far urged these businesses to explain the increase in the prices of basic goods while others were issued letters of inquiry (LOI).

He added that those who were apprehended quickly reverted their prices.

On Dec. 21, Duterte signed Proclamation No. 1267 declaring a state of calamity in areas battered by Typhoon Odette, particularly Mimaropa (Region 4-B), Western Visayas (Region 6), Central Visayas (Region 7), Eastern Visayas (Region 8), Northern Mindanao (Region 10), and Caraga (Region 13).

Proclamation No. 1267 is meant to hasten the rescue, relief, and rehabilitation efforts of the government and the private sector, including any international humanitarian assistance.

The proclamation also aims to effectively control the prices of basic goods and commodities in the affected areas and afford the national government, as well as local government units (LGUs), ample latitude to utilize appropriate funds for the rescue, recovery, relief, and rehabilitation of and the continued delivery of basic services to affected populations.

Typhoon Odette left widespread devastation and damages when it hit parts of Visayas and Mindanao on Dec. 16, killing nearly 389 people and displacing over 1 million families. (PNA)