MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has issued a stern warning against traders and businesses unreasonably jacking up prices of basic goods and construction materials in areas devastated by Typhoon Odette.
Duterte issued the warning after Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez reported on complaints about price increases in areas badly hit by the typhoon.
“I am just giving you the warning na ‘pag nahuli kayo ng DTI or nahuli kayo ng pulis — ang pulis because the jurisdiction dito sa putting a cap on the prices of goods belongs to — and even building materials, nasa sa iyo,” the president said in his pre-taped weekly Talk to the People aired on Monday night.
“So nandito ka man, tell us if there has been a violation or violations during this time because we can identify them and the Philippine National Police, we will ask them to arrest the hoarders and people who are taking advantage of the situation,” Duterte told Lopez.
In his report to the president, Lopez said many profiteers were apprehended in Bohol and Cebu, and they also received complaints against some traders that raised the price of power generator sets.
Consequently, all the reported profiteers were immediately referred to the authorities, he added.
“Base sa mga ni-report sa atin, mga 50 na explanation letters, 50 na inquiry letters, at iyong kasunod noon ay kaso pagka ito po ay hindi talaga sa atin in-explain ‘yung pagtaas nung presyo na ‘yun,” he said.
“But after po na-apprehend sila, actually ho, Mr. President, kino-correct ho nila ‘no. So tayo ho talaga nakatutok doon sa mga nabalitaan natin na mayroong mga pag-increase ng presyo,” he added.
There were also reported increases in fuel prices in several areas, with some doubling or tripling the price to between P120 to P180 per liter.
But after the traders were reprimanded, Lopez said the fuel price in Maasin City; Macrohon, Southern Leyte; and even in the Caraga region now ranges below P50 to P56 per liter.
“Ibig sabihin, ito ho ay after nagkaroon tayo nang pagsupil doon sa mga nag-violate ng mga presyo,” he said.
Lopez said the prices of commodities should remain the same as there is an existing price freeze in areas hit by the typhoon.
Duterte declared on December 21 a state of calamity in six areas hit by Odette; namely, Regions 4B (Mimaropa–Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), 6 (Western Visayas), 7 (Central Visayas), 8 (Eastern Visayas), 10 (Northern Mindanao) and 13 (Caraga).