DTI vows to intensify price monitoring as PH braces for La Niña

By Perla Lena and Kris Crismundo

May 20, 2024, 4:12 pm

<p><strong>INTENSIFIED MONITORING.</strong> DTI Secretary Alfredo Pascual (wearing plain white) leads a market monitoring at a supermarket in Divisoria, Manila in this photo dated Nov. 29, 2023. Pascual reaffirmed the Department of Trade and Investment's commitment to protect consumers against hoarders and price manipulators ahead of La Niña phenomenon. <em>(PNA file photo by Yancy Lim)</em></p>

INTENSIFIED MONITORING. DTI Secretary Alfredo Pascual (wearing plain white) leads a market monitoring at a supermarket in Divisoria, Manila in this photo dated Nov. 29, 2023. Pascual reaffirmed the Department of Trade and Investment's commitment to protect consumers against hoarders and price manipulators ahead of La Niña phenomenon. (PNA file photo by Yancy Lim)

MANILA – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) vowed on Monday to bolster its price monitoring activities nationwide to protect consumers from price manipulation and exploitation as the country braces for La Niña.

“DTI’s commitment to diligent nationwide price monitoring remains unwavering. We are intensifying our efforts to ensure even more effective oversight, particularly as we brace for the impacts of La Niña,” DTI Secretary Alfredo Pascual said in a Viber message.

Pascual made the statement as Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary and Task Force El Niño Chairperson Gilberto Teodoro on Sunday said one of the priorities of the government is going after hoarders and price manipulators who will take advantage of the public ahead and during the La Niña phenomenon.

Teodoro also assured the DTI and the Department of Agriculture (DA) of its support to crack down on hoarders and price manipulators.

“The Department of Trade and Industry wholeheartedly welcomes the strong stance and support pledged by the Secretary of the Department of National Defense in our joint efforts to combat price manipulators and protect consumers during the anticipated La Niña weather phenomenon,” Pascual said.

The trade chief said the DTI is working closely with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to reactivate the Local Price Coordinating Councils (LPCCs), which play a crucial role in monitoring prices at the local level and ensuring compliance with regulations.

Under Section 4 of the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 7581, the LPCC is mandated to coordinate and rationalize the programs to stabilize prices and supply of member agencies in the respective provinces, municipalities, and cities.

An LPCC can also recommend suggested retail prices and price ceilings for certain basic necessities and/or prime commodities in their respective areas to the National Price Coordinating Council or to the implementing agencies.

According to the DTI, the DILG reported that there are 1,335 reactivated LPCCs, or 78 percent of the 1,716 LGUs.

Pascual reminded the public that in areas declared under a state of calamity due to La Niña, automatic price control measures will come into effect.

“The DTI is steadfast in enforcing these regulations, and any individuals caught engaging in illegal price manipulation will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This coordinated effort between the DTI, DND, DA, and DILG is aimed at ensuring fair prices and protecting the welfare of consumers across the nation,” Pascual said. 

Meanwhile, Trade and Industry Western Visayas Consumer Protection Chief Grace Benedicto said they will rely on local government units in the monitoring of prices of basic necessities and prime commodities.

“We always coordinate with the local price coordinating council because we could not totally monitor, especially those in barangays. So the local government units are our partners when it comes to monitoring the small stores in the community,” she said in a press conference on Monday.

Price monitoring has been enforced in areas under a state of calamity due to the El Niño phenomenon.

DTI Regional Director for Western Visayas Rachel Nufable said LGUs have police power with the local chief executive sitting as the chair of the coordinating council.

“The local government unit should really be on top of this with the local chief executive as the head of the local price coordinating council. We also partner with the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) in the operation of our local price monitoring council. So we will work with them and I know the DILG can help us in ensuring that local chief executives and barangays can help in seeing to it the retailers follow the price freeze or the suggested retail price,” she said. (PNA)

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