NOCHE BUENA. The Department of Trade and Industry in Negros Oriental has released a price guide on food products, such as ham, that are usually bought for the Christmas Eve or Noche Buena celebrations. The agency is anticipating an increase in prices due to the high demand for these food items during the holidays. (PNA file photo by Judy Flores Partlow)

DUMAGUETE CITY – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Negros Oriental said it is anticipating a rise in the volume of Noche Buena food items on sale, thus it has issued a price guide to grocery stores, supermarkets and other outlets, an official said Friday.

DTI-Negros Oriental provincial director Nimfa Virtucio told the Philippine News Agency that the price guide which contains a list of food items covered took effect on Wednesday and were distributed to business establishments.

“Actually, this is not a Suggested Retail Price (SRP) list but just a price guide that contains different brands of food items so that people will have more choices of a particular product,” Virtucio said in mixed English and Cebuano. “We are confident that the prices set in the price guide are enough for them to make a profit but will not burden the consuming public.”

The food products listed include ham, fruit cocktail, cheese, queso de bola, mayonnaise, sandwich spread, spaghetti and macaroni pasta, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce and creamer/all-purpose cream.

A price increase in these products is anticipated because Filipinos traditionally use them in their Noche Buena or Christmas Eve dishes thus, the demand for these food items will be higher, the DTI official said.

She noted that some of these Noche Buena products are imported, thus, a price increase is expected, considering the higher inflation and exchange rates of the Philippine peso.

Virtucio said the DTI will not make outright apprehensions of “violators” of the price guide, but will ask consumers to file a complaint with their office.

She also suggested making Christmas celebrations simple, with Filipino dishes served to family and friends.

In an interview over church-run Radio Veritas on Friday afternoon, the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas (SLP) asked manufacturers to consider the welfare of the poor before raising prices.

SLP president Jun Cruz expressed hope that Filipinos could still enjoy Christmas despite diminished purchasing capacity due to the rising prices of basic commodities.

"Careful and more thorough study as more consumers began to worry about the DTI’s announced permission to increase prices of some Noche Buena products," Cruz said.

The SLP is under the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippine - Episcopal Commission on the Laity.

Meanwhile, business establishments in Negros Oriental found to be selling sub-standard Christmas lights will face sanctions or arrest.

“We will really arrest them if they sell Christmas lights that do not conform to the standards set for guaranteed quality and safety,” Virtucio said.

Consumers should purchase only those that carry the Philippine Standard (PS) mark or the Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) sticker that can be found on the packaging, she added.

Virtucio eminded the public of safety measures when reusing Christmas lights, such as by checking for electrical breaks, plugs, and busted bulbs.

She further said consumers should be informed on which type of Christmas lights are for indoors or outdoors and whether these can be left switched on overnight. (With a report from Ferdinand Patinio/PNA)