DTI warns businessmen of price control violations
By Danny O Sagun
Dagupan City (7 October) -- "Ayusin nyong mga presyo nyo, maglagay ng price tag at huwag magsamantala ngayong panahon ng kalamidad."
This in a nutshell was the message put across by the Department of Trade and Industry in its dialog this morning with the business sector in Pangasinan at Star Plaza Hotel here.
Led by DTI Regional Director Florante Leal, the dialog drew some 45 representatives of various business groups and establishments. Leal reminded them to abide by Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act which took effect on June 7, 1992. The law protects consumers by stabilizing the price and supply of basic necessities and prime commodities and by prescribing measures against undue price increase especially during emergency situations like calamities.
Two typhoons – Ondoy and Pepeng - battered the country lately especially Metro Manila and Northern Luzon which were hardest hit by floods and strong winds. The county was placed under a state of calamity.
Under the Price Act, automatic price control is imposed whenever the President declares an area under a state of calamity, disaster, emergency and other like situations. Prices of basic necessities are automatically frozen at prevailing prices – the average price at which any basic necessity has been sold in a given area within a month from the occurrence of calamity. Basic necessities include rice-corn, bread, fish and marine products, milk, sugar and other products.
Prime commodities include fresh fruits, flour, processed and canned pork and other meat products, noodles, soy sauce, construction and electrical materials.
Illegal acts of price manipulation include hoarding, profiteering and cartel.
Provincial DTI Director Peter Mangabat likewise reminded the businessmen about the stiff penalties – imprisonment of five to 15 years and fine of P5,000 to P2 million for price manipulation, and prison term of one to 10 years or fine of P5,000 to P1 million for violation of the price ceiling.
Mangabat said that starting October 4 price monitoring and enforcement teams have been fielded to check prices of stores and other concerned business establishments.
Businessman Rosendo So, who heads the Eastern Pangasinan Chamber of Commerce, thanked the DTI for meeting the business sector first before effecting any sanctions against those found violating the law. "At least nag-dialog muna tayo, hindi yong huli muna bago ang dialog," he said in his brief remarks.
A contentious issue cropped up when a businessman pointed out that the price ceiling for a 10 mm steel bar is pegged at P109 in Pangasinan when it is priced P111 in Tarlac, which, he noted, is nearer Manila, the source of most supplies.
Leal said he would check the matter with his superiors.
Told that the price ceiling imposed was below the acquisition cost, trade specialist Marjorie Loresco said there is no other recourse but to comply with the law. "Bawi na lang kayo sa ibang products," she said.
Leal said a similar dialog was held yesterday in San Fernando City in La Union. (PIA Pangasinan) [top]