The Department of Trade and Industry, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, has filed charges against 60 traders who violated the Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act.
Trade and Industry Sec. Ramon Lopez said the two agencies have been partnering with each other to bust profiteering groups taking advantage of the many restrictions implemented during the quarantine period.
“We have 1,070 letters on inquiry — these are letters sent out to shops under question for issues of overpricing and other concerns raised to our office. For now, we have recorded 31 with show cause order, there are 274 that violated trade laws, and 60 were filed with formal charges,” Lopez said.
He said during their monitoring activities, shop owners are confronted right away if caught violating the law. However, if they adjust their prices, it would serve as their first warning, and they would be allowed to continue doing business.
“However, if they continue with their violation, that is the time we execute the due process. They will receive show cause orders,” the DTI chief said.
Any act of illegal price manipulation of any basic necessity or prime commodity under the Price Act has an appropriate penalty of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than 15 years. It also comes with a fine of not less than P5,000 nor more than P2 million.
On the other hand, violation of price ceiling or pricing beyond the suggested retail price especially in the event of a calamity would be penalized with imprisonment for a period of not less than one year nor more than 10 years, and a fine of not less than P5,000 nor more than P1 million, or both, at the discretion of the court.
Meanwhile, Lopez also shared that the consuming public can use their developed “E-presyo” app to check the prices of products in a particular supermarket or shop and compare it with other outlets.
“Using this app, you can easily compare the prices, you will see where you can get more with your budget especially if you are buying by bulk. This is updated regularly and it is also on our website but for convenience, the app is useful,” he said.