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Profit-hungry traders warned

AGRICULTURE Secretary William Dar has warned traders against taking advantage of the state of calamity in Luzon declared by government in the aftermath of the series of devastating typhoons.

Secretary Dar reminded businessmen that the DA, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will not hesitate to file charges against them if they are found engaging in manipulating supply, hoarding and jacking up prices to the disadvantage of the consumers.

Under Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act of the Philippines, price control on basic food commodities and basic necessities is automatically implemented in areas declared under a state of calamity for a period of not more than 60 days.

The DA along with DTI, DILG through their respective local price coordinating councils (LPCCs) will strictly implement a price freeze on agricultural and fishery commodities and basic essential goods to make them accessible and affordable to the public.

“Any person or entity violating the Price Act shall be charged accordingly, with fines ranging from P5,000 to P2 million, and imprisonment of not less than five years but not more than 15 years,” Secretary Dar said.

President Duterte placed the entire Luzon under a state of calamity due to the extensive damage caused by three successive typhoons — Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses — as recommended by the inter-agency National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

Covered by the price freeze includes milkfish (cage-cultured) which should be at P169 per kilo; tilapia (pond-cultured, fresh-chilled) – P120; round scad or galunggong (imported) – P180; pork (pigue/kasim) is at P260; pork (liempo) – P280; chicken (whole) – P130; Sugar (refined) should be at P50; sugar (brown) – P45; red onion (fresh) – P100; garlic (fresh, imported) – P100; rice (imported): special – P52; premium – P43; well-milled – P38; Rice (local): special – P53; premium – P45; well-milled – P40; Round scad or galunggong (local) – P140; chicken egg (medium) – P6.50 per piece; Cooking oil (30 ml) – P25; and Cooking oil (1 liter) – P50.

Meanwhile, Secretary Dar said he ordered all DA and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional directors to monitor unaffected production areas and assess the viability of transporting farm and fishery commodities to Metro Manila and other major consumption centers.