DA runs after hoarders, profiteers | Inquirer Business

DA runs after hoarders, profiteers

By: - Reporter / @kocampoINQ
/ 05:30 AM April 03, 2020

The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it would file appropriate cases against unscrupulous traders who would take advantage of the current crisis situation to make more money by hoarding supplies of basic food items and jacking up their prices beyond suggested retail prices (SRPs) set by the government.

In a statement released on Thursday, the agency said that its Bantay Presyo task force had reported many retailers who still refused to follow the SRPs and the price freeze on agri-fishery products despite repeated appeals from the government.

The task force monitors all public markets across Metro Manila, and receives reports from the public via texts and calls.


“We therefore warn traders, retailers and hoarders that the government is serious to apprehend and file cases against them if they continue to take advantage of our countrymen particularly during this state of national emergency,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.


“We hope to apprehend erring retailers, unscrupulous traders and hoarders, and file appropriate charges against them for violating the Price Act,” he added.

The Price Act protects consumers from any unreasonable price increases, and ensures stable prices of basic necessities and prime commodities. Further, the price freeze policy is contained in a joint memorandum circular forged by the DA, Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Health.

The memorandum covers all persons, including those who sell through the internet or other media. It sets a price ceiling for basic commodities “should the existence or effects of COVID-19 continue to persist beyond the 60-day period.”

Dar earlier said he was expecting prices of food items to start settling at reasonable and affordable levels last week, but reports showed that prices of commodities such as garlic, onion and vegetables had skyrocketed by as much as 40 percent.

As such, Dar said they would be strengthening the said task force of the DA beginning this week.

The agency’s Bantay Presyo task force is composed of three teams, namely price monitoring, enforcement and adjudication.


The price monitoring team is tasked to conduct regular monitoring of prices and supply throughout the food supply chain, analyzes price trends, provides a basis for establishing price points, and investigates causes of market and price irregularities.

The enforcement team is tasked to issue letters of inquiry to retailers and traders found violating the SRP, and serves as a fact-finding unit that documents proof of violations.

Meanwhile, the adjudication team finds prima facie evidence against these violators, and files appropriate cases before the proper court.

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Violators of the Price Act would be fined between P5,000 and P2 million and could face a jail term between five and 15 years.

TAGS: Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Department of Agriculture (DA)

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