Overpriced masks trigger stricter market watch

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    Safety first. Face masks quickly went out of stock in drug stores as early as Sunday in Sto. Tomas, Batangas. (Photo by RHOY COBILLA)
    Safety first. Face masks quickly went out of stock in drug stores as early as Sunday in Sto. Tomas, Batangas. (Photo by RHOY COBILLA)
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    The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) yesterday has dispatched teams to monitor and observe movement of retail prices of basic and prime commodities in the market following the eruption of Taal Volcano on Sunday.

    DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez issued the notice to retailers of the department’s move to closely watch supply and prices following reports that some retailers have jacked up prices of face masks and gas masks, taking advantage of the surge in demand of these products.

    “Those found to have unreasonably increased their prices for gas masks, face masks and other similar items, which act is tantamount to profiteering, shall be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law,” Lopez said in a statement.

    Lopez said the DTI will suggest to the retailers to limit sales of face and gas masks per customer as demand surged starting Sunday.

    Reports said stores in affected areas quickly run out of N95 masks, the recommended mask for preventing inhalation of hazardous air particles from the ash fall.

    Reports said ordinary surgical masks also went out of stock.

    There were anecdotal reports of that some N95 masks which are about P40 to P50 each are being sold as high as P100 per piece.

    Lopez in a DTI advisory said prices of manufactured basic necessities and prime commodities will remain unchanged as of the published Suggested Retail Price bulletin issued by the DTI last September 30.

    “The DTI will not hesitate to file administrative and criminal charges against unscrupulous business entities and individuals who capitalize on the consumers’ need for their own profit,” Lopez added.

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