Prices of bottled water, plastic drums spike amid shortage

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 15, 2019   •   2468

From a gallon of water costing P30, it now costs P50.

The phone in Jay Tandayo’s water station has been ringing nonstop with customers asking only one question: when will their delivery arrive?

Jay and his crew still haven’t slept after driving to Sampaloc, Manila to get water supply. The weak water pressure in Mandaluyong could no longer fill up their own tank.

In order to supplement the expenses they used for gasoline, they had no choice but to increase prices.

Because of their dedication to their customers, they are prepared for sleepless nights, even if with meager earnings.

“Mahirap po dahil naaapektuhan ang negosyo natin kaya ginagawa po namin, nag aangkat kami sa Sampaloc para continuous ang supply. Sa ngayon hindi namin masabing kumikita o nalulugi pero siguro break-even [It is difficult because our business is affected. We source our stock from Sampaloc for continuous supply. For now, we cannot say if we are earning or not, it’s more of a break-even],” Tandayo said.

Mandaluyong resident Ariel Blaza, meanwhile, is prepared to pay even up to P100 for water as long as his kids will have something to drink.

The water coming from their faucet is not drinkable.

“Gigising ka ng madaling araw para magibig ng tubig parang ihi lang lumalabas sa gripo minsan marumi pa, makalawang. Wala tayo magagawa kailangan natin ng tubig kung hindi ka naman bibili ng tubig, ano iinumin mo baka mas mahirap pa baka magkasakit ka pa lalo mas malaki gagastusin mo [You will wake up so early in the morning just to collect water but the water pressure would be weak and rusty. We cannot do anything about it because we need water. If you will not buy water, what will you drink? Worse is, you might get sick which would cost more],” he said.

Another resident, Andrea Bernasol, painstakingly carries a gallon of water to her home despite her slim physique.

The water from their faucet is also dirty so she is willing to pay for clean water.

“Wala namang magagawa, for safety na rin. Puro kasi kami babae sa bahay kaya walang choice [There’s not much we can do about it, it is for our safety. We are all women at home, so we have to carry it ourselves],” she said.

Several laundry shops and water stations in Mandaluyong have already closed due to lack of water supply.

Aside from high water prices, there is also an increase in plastic drum prices. In a residential area in the city, a plastic drum costs P350 which previously cost P150 to P200.

Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has warned water refilling stations that are overcharging.

“Hindi sila pwedeng magsamantala kasi papasok na ang DTI hindi por que water refilling station sila ay hindi na namin sakop siyempre the fact na binobote nila iyan para inumin papasok na ngayon ang jurisdiction ng DTI [They cannot abuse the price hike because the DTI will monitor that. Just because they are a water refilling station doesn’t mean they are not under our jurisdiction. The fact that they put water in bottles to drink, it falls under the DTI’s jurisdiction],” DTI undersecretary Ruth Castelo said.

The DTI will also inspect water refilling stations in affected areas in order to check if their price increase on bottled water is still fair. —Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Mon Jocson)

IATF to allow partial opening of gyms, internet cafes, aesthetic services starting August 1

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the partial opening of more business establishments in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified (GCQ) starting August 1, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Wednesday.

According to IATF Resolution No. 59, establishments in GCQ areas that are offering aesthetic services, gyms, fitness centers and sports facilities, internet cafes, personal grooming, pet grooming, testing and tutorial centers as well as review centers and drive-in cinemas will be allowed to operate up to 30 percent of capacity.

The DTI, however, clarified that gyms with contact sports such as karate and boxing are not covered by the measure.

In areas under MGCQ, limited operations will be allowed for establishments offering full body massage, live events, entertainment industries, libraries, archives, museums and cultural centers, and tourist destinations, as well as driving, and dance/acting/voice schools.

The DTI said these businesses will be allowed to partially operate as long as mandatory health protocols, such as physical distancing and sanitation, are followed.

Meanwhile, Malacañang reiterated on Wednesday that President Rodrigo Duterte will make announcements this week about the new community quarantine classification that will be implemented in August.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the president is set to meet with the IATF on Thursday to discuss its recommendations.

Roque also said that aside from the new community quarantine restrictions, the public should also await the “major changes” that will be implemented in the government’s response to COVID-19 pandemic.

The Palace official earlier said that these changes, which will include massive testing, “invigorated” tracing, and creation of more quarantine facilities, will focus more on the policies to contain the public health crisis. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

DTI probes reports on alleged abuse of PWD discount cards

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 23, 2020

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will investigate the reports of alleged misuse of Persons with Disability (PWD) identification cards.

A photo circulated on social media last 20 June 2020 showing a photo of a family from Quezon City with all members supposedly visually impaired and one with psychosocial disability.

“Abuse of privilege in any law ruins the spirit behind it. Such a discount is solely meant for actual persons with disabilities. DTI, through the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB), is currently investigating the matter,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

He also emphasized that such corruption is not tolerated and must immediately be reported to the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).

The department said it is also ready to file charges against individuals proven to have fake PWD ID cards.

“Especially in this time of crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, people should not be abusing their PWD ID cards since many restaurant owners are also facing difficulty in keeping their businesses afloat,” he said. AAC

Gov’t urged to grant incentives, not taxes to online sellers

Robie de Guzman   •   June 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday called on the government to extend fresh capital and other financial assistance, instead of implementing “untimely” new taxes to online entrepreneurs amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a statement, Gatchalian said online sellers should be covered by the microfinancing program of the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.) under the Department of Trade and Industry to help them grow their business and recover from the economic effects of the pandemic.

The senator noted that DTI’s SB Corp. has a P1 billion Enterprise Rehabilitation Financing facility under the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (Covid19 P3-ERF) to support micro and small businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

The microfinancing program offers a minimal interest rate of not more than 2.5% per month with no collateral requirement.

Micro enterprises with asset size of not more than PhP3 million may borrow PhP10,000 up to PhP200,000 while small enterprises with asset size of not more than PhP10 million may borrow a higher loan amount but will not exceed PhP500,000.

“Ang DTI ay dapat magbigay pa nga ng puhunan sa mga Pilipino na nawalan ng trabaho at gustong makaahon sa kahirapan sa pamamagitan ng pagnenegosyo sa online. Sa ganitong panahon ng pandemya, mas magandang nasa tahanan lang sila at nag-nenegosyo. Nabibigyan pa nila ng trabaho ang mga delivery service riders.” Gatchalian said.

“Hindi lang basta ayuda ang hinihingi ng mga negosyanteng ito. Ang hinihingi nila ay malaya silang bigyan ng oportunidad na makapag-negosyo para may kita sila,” he added.

Gatchalian, vice chairman of the Senate committee on economic affairs, issued the statement following Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) move to require online sellers to register their business until July 31, and pay taxes if they are earning higher than P250,000 a year.

The lawmaker believes that registering businesses with the BIR is ineffective since its system requires an applicant’s physical presence at this time when people are still being restricted from leaving their homes.

“Nakita ko na hindi rin handa ang ating pamahalaan na buwisan ang ating mga maliliit na negosyante dahil yung ultimong pagre-rehistro ay hindi pa sila handa kaya huwag na nating ipilit sa ganitong panahon ng pandemya, dahil hindi lang marami ang naghihirap kundi marami rin ang natatakot na lumabas ng kanilang bahay,” he stressed.

Aside from providing capital, Gatchalian also urged the DTI to make use of the Philippine Innovation Law to enhance the competitiveness of these online sellers.

The law aims to harness innovation efforts to help the poor, the marginalized, and MSMEs to be a part of the domestic and global supply chain.

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