The Department of Trade and Industry-Consumer Protection Group confiscated some 6,000 boxes of Lucky Me instant noodles worth P3.5 million, which were being sold online at a higher price.
The CPG said the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau headed by Director Ronnel Abrenica, together with National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group led by Col. Erwin Dayag had an entrapment operation last April 30 in Alabang-Zapote Road in Las Pinas City.
“The seized goods are in the custody of the Assistant Vice President of the Legal Department of SM Investment Corporation at the SM Southmall. The CIDG is investigating this case further,” the CPG said in a statement.
The government made the buy-bust operation as the instant noodles were sold online at P9.50 per piece, higher than the P7.75 per piece price of the product.
Instant noodles are included in the list of basic goods, which the government imposed a price freeze on amid the enhanced community quarantine due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Following the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte, the DTI and partner enforcement agencies such as the PNP-CIDG and National Bureau of Investigation, are very serious in going after erring individuals and business establishments, whether operating in a physical or online platform. The utmost protection to the rights, welfare, and safety of consumers is very crucial, especially at this time,” Trade and Industry Sec. Ramon Lopez said.
During the buy-bust operation, two individuals were arrested. They are facing charges pursuant to the Consumer Act and the Bayanihan Act.
DTI-CPG Undersecretary Ruth Castelo also encouraged the public to be vigilant and urged to report to the department profiteers amid the pandemic.
“The DTI requests for the cooperation of the public in reporting incidents of overpricing and hoarding in the market. Those found violating will be dealt with to the fullest and highest extent of the law,” Castelo said.
At the start of the enhanced community quarantine, DTI said it would go after profiteers and hoarders amid the Covid-19 pandemic. This also includes online sellers overpricing essential products.
Consumers can report their complaints to DTI hotline 1-384 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.