Senator Bam Aquino urges Cebu and Bohol traders to consider the welfare of those affected by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit Central Visayas on Tuesday, and to strictly follow the price freeze that is currently imposed on those areas.
“We should not be taking advantage of the victims who have already suffered enough due to the earthquake,” the lawmaker said after receiving reports that some traders are selling basic goods at a higher price despite the existing price freeze.
“In fact, businessmen who are financially capable should even help the government’s relief efforts,” added Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship.
At the same time, Aquino also called on the public to immediately report violators of the price freeze to authorities.
“We ask the public to help us monitor and report unscrupulous businessmen who are taking advantage of the situation and thinking only of profit,” Sen. Aquino emphasized.
Aquino said the public can contact the Department of Trade and Industry’s local offices in Bohol (038-501-8260),Cebu (032-253-2631 and 412-1863) and Region 7 (032-255-0036/255-0037) for their complaints.
The DTI recently implemented a price freeze in quake-damaged areas in Bohol and Cebu, under Republic Act No. 7581 or the Price Act.
With this, the prices of basic goods in an area placed under a state of calamity must remain at prevailing levels for no more than 60 days.
Price control covers the following basic products: rice; corn; bread; fresh, dried and canned fish and other marine products; fresh pork, beef and poultry meat; fresh eggs; fresh and processed milk.
Also included in the price freeze are fresh vegetables; roots crops; coffee; sugar; cooking oil; salt; laundry soap; detergents; firewood; charcoal; candles; and drugs classified as essential by the Department of Health.
A fine of up to P1,000,000 and a maximum 10-year jail sentence await violators of the Price Act.
Recently, President Aquino signed Republic Act 10623, expanding the coverage of the Price Act to include bottled water, fruits, instant noodles, kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) but DTI has yet to draft the implementing guidelines.