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DA warns violators of price freeze

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The Department of Agriculture (DA) warned stores and market vendors violating the price freeze policy of the government.

“We therefore warn traders, retailers, and hoarders that government is serious to apprenhend and file cases against them if they continue to take advantage of our countrymen particulalry during this state of national emergency,” DA Secretary William Dar said.

The DA chief said they will be strengthening the Bantay Presyo Task Force to monitor prices of basic agricultural commodities, enforce the suggested retail price (SRP) policy, and go against cartels, hoarders, and profiteers.

“Sadly, despite our repeated appeal, many retailers still do not follow the SRP and price freeze on agri-fishery products, taking advantage of consumers in this time of crisis,” Dar added.

The SRP for nine basic goods are as follows: pork (pigue/kasim) – P190; chicken (whole, dressed) – P130; sugar (raw, brown) – P45; (refined) – P50; milkfish or bangus (cage-cultured) – P162; tilapia (pond-cultured) – P120; galunggong (imported) – P130; garlic (imported) – P70; garlic (local) – P120; and red onion (fresh) – P95.

“With a stronger Bantay Presyo Task Force, we hope to apprehend erring retailers, unscrupulous traders, and hoarders and file appropriate charges against them for violating the Price Act or RA (Republic Act) 7581,” he also said.

The Price Act protects consumers by stabilizing the prices of basic necessities and prime commodities, and by prescribing measures against undue price increases during emergency situations, natural occurrences, or man-made disasters.

Further, the price freeze policy is contained under a joint memorandum circular forged by the DA, Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Health.

The price freeze covers all persons, including those who sell through the internet or other media. It sets a price ceiling for basic commodities “should the existence or effects of COVID-19 continue to persist beyond the 60-day period.”

Violators of the Price Act will be fined between P5,000 and P2 million and face imprisonment between five and 15 years.

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