A HOUSE leader has asked the National Price Coordinating Council (NPCC) what steps it had undertaken to cushion the impact of rising inflation.
In a statement, Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said Congress will wait for the report of the NPCC before taking any legislative action on the rising costs of products especially the basic necessities.
Andaya said a national price picture will give solons an idea of where enforcement should be tougher, and where stocks should be rushed.
Under Section 12 of the Price Act of 1992 (as amended by RA 10623), the NPCC is mandated to “report at least semi-annually to the President and to the Congress of the Philippines the status and progress of the programs, projects, and measures undertaken by each implementing department, agency or office as well as the comprehensive strategies developed by the Council to stabilize the prices of basic necessities and prime commodities.”
“We want to know from Council members if there is really widespread hoarding and illegal price manipulation taking place. Interesado rin tayong malaman kung sinusunod ba talaga ang Suggested Retail Price sa mga bilihin na ipinatutupad ng mga ahensya. Ano ang ginagawa sa mga violators ng SRP?” Andaya said.
The NPCC is chaired by the Secretary of Trade and Industry, and composed of other Cabinet members from Departments of Agriculture, Health, Environment and Natural Resources, Local Government, Transportation and Communications, Justice, and Energy.
Other members of the Council include the Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority and one representative each from the consumers’ sector, agricultural producers’ sector, trading sector, and manufacturers’ sector.
The House leader particularly wants to know if there is hoarding of rice and other food products.
“If hoarding and profiteering is really behind the unreasonable price increases, the Price Coordinating Council may recommend that the Executive Department resort to drastic measures to protect our consumers,” he added.
In Mindanao, for instance, where martial law is still enforced, Section 6 of the Price Act mandates that “the prices of basic necessities shall automatically be frozen at their prevailing prices or placed under automatic price control.”
In Luzon and Visayas, Andaya said the Council may invoke Section 7 which states that “the President, upon the recommendation of the implementing agency or the Price Coordinating Council, may impose a price ceiling on any basic necessity or prime commodity” in cases of “prevalence or widespread acts of illegal price manipulation” and “whenever the prevailing price of any basic necessity or prime commodity has risen to unreasonable levels.”
“Malaki ang maitutulong ng report ng NPCC para malaman kung may dapat pa ba kaming gawin sa Kongreso para i-review ang batas at dagdagan ang kapangyarihan ng executive department laban sa mga hoarders at price manipulators,” Andaya stressed.
“In some places, inflation is higher than the national average. Rice and gas prices have shot through the roof in many provinces where the cost of transporting them is expensive,” he added.