Profiteers taking advantage of volcano eruption warned

January 13, 2020

A party-list congresswoman on Monday warned pharmacies, grocery stores, hardwares and individual sellers that are overcharging consumers as they rush to buy masks and other supplies to protect themselves from the dangers of the Taal volcano eruption.

House Asstant Majority Floor Leader and ACT-CIS Rep. Niña Taduran called on all water concessionaires to provide uninterrupted water to communities affected by the ash fall.

“It has come to my attention that certain stores have been charging 200 and up per N95 mask, and there are several individuals who are raking in immense profit after hoarding the masks and selling them online. They face a penalty of 10, 000 fine or imprisonment of up to 1 year or both under the Consumer Law,” said Taduran.

Section 52 of the Philippine Consumer Act, or the Unfair or Unconscionable Sales Act or Practice,  prohibits sellers from exploiting buyers based on “physical or mental infirmity, ignorance, illiteracy, lack of time or the general conditions of the environment or surroundings.”

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) party-list Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza asked that employers provide their workers with pay, even if they are unable to come in to work because of the ashfall from Taal Volcano. Mendoza, TUCP president, is asking for compassion for workers who will have to face the effects of the possible eruption of Taal volcano.

“In times of calamity, workers will be relying on their employers to show compassion and give them the wages that they expected to receive under normal circumstances. We have already seen instances of price gouging, with necessities being priced much higher than usual. How will our workers be able to protect themselves and their families if the No Work, No Pay scheme is retained? It is impossible for some to make it through the roads to reach their places of work,” said Mendoza.

“The volcanic activity of Taal Volcano surprised us all yesterday evening, and local government units in nearby areas have begun to evacuate those who are most vulnerable. There is no telling for how long the situation will remain this way, but workers lives are at risk if they venture out into the open air,” said Mendoza.

“No less than the national government has requested that businesses allow their employees to stay home from work, but this was not the case for those in the manufacturing and BPO industries. This is an occupational safety and health hazard, and under our laws workers can refuse to come in to work. The ashfall has covered the roads and affected the visibility of cars. Businesses should put the health and safety of their workers first,” Mendoza explained.

ACT-CIS party-list will visit the evacuation centers in Batangas and deliver free masks and other relief goods to the victims of the eruption.

“Water is also vital in the areas affected by the eruption. Communities in Metro Manila and in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) have been experiencing regular water interruptions since summer. It is essential that safe drinking water is available and also to clean up the ash as soon as possible as this poses a health hazard and could possibly cause even more problems if left unattended,” Taduran stressed.

Taduran also inquired about the possible effects of the ash fall on the water supply.

“Gusto ko lang malaman kung hindi ba na-contaminate ng ash fall ang ating water sources dahil sa pagkakaintintindi ko acidic ang volcanic ash? Wala bang panganib kung ito ay mahalo sa tubig na dinidistribute mula sa filtration plants?” Taduran asked