PRESIDENT Duterte on Wednesday night, approved the creation of a government task force that will go after price manipulators, hoarders and smugglers of food and other agricultural products.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles yesterday said the creation of the economic intelligence sub-task force was recommended by the Department of Agriculture.
Nograles said the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry will lead the group whose members are the Department of Justice, Department of Interior and Local Government, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Customs, Philippine Competition Commission, National Security Council, and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.
“Kung mayroong mga grupo o negosyante na pinagsasamantalahan ang pandemya para pagkakitaan ang taumbayan, hindi po ito palalampasin (If there are groups or businessmen that would take advantage of the pandemic to earn profit, we will not let it pass),” Nograles said.
The DA suggested last month the creation of the subgroup under the task group on food security of the Interagency Task Force for the Management of the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to help in monitoring unscrupulous traders who are manipulating prices of agricultural commodities including pork.
The DA said those found guilty of price manipulation could be fined up to P100 million.
President Duterte on Monday placed a 60-day price cap on pork and chicken products in Metro Manila to address soaring prices, on the DA’s recommendation.
But senators said the price cap would not lower the prices of meat.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, former presidential assistant on food security and agricultural modernization, said government should instead go after food price manipulators.
Pangilinan recalled that as food security czar when rice prices were rising in 2014, he created an inter-agency task force composed of the National Food Authority, the Department of Trade and Industry, the NBI, and the PNP-CIDG.
that went after profiteers, unscrupulous traders, and even a number of NFA managers.