DTI warns merchants vs overpricing of basic necessities in ‘Odette-hit’ areas

December 27, 2021 - 6:06 PM
A woman receives a meal during a feeding program at an evacuation center, following typhoon Rai, in Surigao City, Surigao del Norte, Philippines, December 21, 2021. Picture taken December 21, 2021. (Jilson Tiu/Greenpeace/Handout via Reuters)

The Department of Trade and Industry advised merchants and traders against overpricing and price hikes in typhoon-stricken areas in Visayas and Mindanao.

Typhoon “Odette” (international name: Rai) rampaged through cities and municipalities within these regions and other parts of the country ahead of Christmas week.

In an advisory on Monday, December 27, DTI stated that overpricing and price hikes are prohibited in these concerned regions which were placed under states of calamity.

“The Department of Trade and Industry sends an important advisory on prohibiting overpricing and price hikes, particularly those located in the concerned regions under the state of calamity (namely MIMAROPA, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao and CARAGA), as these are violations of the Republic Act 7581 or also known as the ‘Price Act’,” the agency said.

“Due to the state of emergency in these affected areas, this would result [in] a control of prices as well as ensuring the availability of basic good and commodities,” the agency added.

This statement came following some reports of overpricing in some Odette-hit areas such as in Cebu City.

In the same post, DTI encouraged consumers to file complaints to them on any merchants they deemed to be selling overpriced goods.

“We advise consumers to coordinate their complaints with us through either of the following channels of the DTI: 1-384 toll-free hotline, [email protected], www.dti.gov.ph/konsyumer/complaints,” the department said.

Price control or price freeze is automatically imposed in areas placed under a state of calamity as provided in Section 6 of The Price Act.

“Unless sooner lifted by the President, price control of basic necessities under this section shall remain effective for the duration of the condition that brought it about, but not for more than sixty days. The terms ‘disaster’ and ‘calamity’ shall include those brought about by natural or man-made causes, whether local or foreign,” the provision said.

Last December 23, DTI imposed a 60-day or two-month price freeze on all basic necessities in the following regions:

  • Western Visayas
  • Central Visayas
  • Eastern Visayas
  • Northern Mindanao

As its response to the victims, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said that the agency will be allotting P200 million in the form of loans and grants to affected micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

“DTI will provide the needed livelihood support, as well as the microlending program of the SB (Small Business) Corp.,” Lopez was quoted as saying in a Philstar.com report.

READ: DTI allots P200 million for Odette-hit MSMEs | Philstar.com

As of writing, the death toll due to Odette rose to 389, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

NDRRMC also recorded 64 missing individuals and 1,146 listed as injured.