MALACAÑANG on Wednesday night ordered a price freeze on the prices of basic commodities and set a ceiling on the costs of several agriculture and fishery supplies to prevent unscrupulous individuals from taking advantage of public fears about a lack of supplies resulting from the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed in the entire Luzon region.
The Department of Trade and Industry said government is freezing the prices of basic goods until May 15, while the Department of Agriculture announced it has approved suggested retail prices (SRP) for agriculture and fishery products to ensure affordability of food items.
“Prices thereof shall not increase in the retail market for any reason or for any purpose for the next 60 days upon its declaration or until May 15, 2020, unless sooner lifted by (President Duterte),” Trade Secretary Lopez said in a briefing in Malacanang.
He warned profiteers or those who will violate the Price Act they will be fined up to P2 million and can face imprisonment of up to 15 years.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, concurrent spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said the price freeze aims to ensure that food and other basic items remain affordable and that no one takes advantage of the current COVID-19 crisis.
“Nasa gitna po tayo ng krisis. Isang pagsubok na malalampasan natin kung tayo po ay magtutulungan. Gayunpaman, hindi po tayo papayag na pag-samantalahan ang krisis na ito para pag-kakitaan ang taumbayan. Walang lamangan. (We are in the middle of a crisis, a challenge that we can surpass if we help each other. We will not allow anyone to use the crisis to take advantage of the public. Everyone should be equal),” Nograles said.
Nograles said the IATF-EID has tasked the Department of Health, DA and DTI to continuously monitor and review the prices of basic commodities in their respective jurisdictions and enact price control measures pursuant to the Price Act (Republic Act No. 7581).
He encouraged the pubic to report profiteers to the DTI through its consumer hotline 1-384 or e-mail address [email protected].
President Duterte on March 16 placed the entire Philippines under a state of calamity for a period of six months. The declaration allows the government to impose a price freeze and enable local government units to tap their quick response fund to address the COVID outbreak.
SRP ON AGRI PRODUCTS
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said SRPs will be implemented for selected agriculture and fishery products.
The SRPs cover pork, which should be sold at P190 per kilo, whole and dressed chicken at P130, brown sugar at P45, refined sugar at P50, bangus at P162, tilapia at P120, galunggong at P130, garlic at P70 to P120, and red onion at P95.
Dar said the SRP covers only Metro Manila markets at this time.
The public may report any complaints at the DA’s hotline 0951-1443233.
TUITION AND CLASSES
Commission on Higher Education Chairman Prospero de Vera III, during the “Laging Handa” public briefing in Malacanang, urged universities and colleges to be more lenient in the payment of tuition and the holding of online classes.
De Vera appealed to private higher learning institutions to defer the payment of school fees for this month and allow the staggered payment of tuition once the ECQ is lifted.
De Vera likewise took note of the concerns of some students who are unable to comply with requirements using the online or distant learning mode after some universities and colleges shifted to online classes while the Luzon island under enhanced quarantine.
“Ako’y nakikiusap ulit sa mga presidente at mga pamunuan ng mga public, private universities to exert extra leniency to the students to adjust the delivery mode without compromising standards para itong isang buwan na ito ay magamit natin nang tama (I am appealing to the presidents and leadership of public, private universities to exert extra leniency to their students to adjust the delivery mode without compromising standards so we can use this one month period properly),” he said.