A price freeze is in place for agricultural and fishery commodities and basic essential goods amid the series of typhoons that ravaged the country.
The Department of Agriculture, in tandem with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and local government units, through their respective local price coordinating councils (LPCCs), said on Monday it will strictly implement a price freeze on agricultural products and that violators will be penalized.
“The price freeze on basic agricultural and fishery products forms part of the government’s continuing efforts to ensure availability of basic commodities at reasonable prices, particularly in areas severely affected by the recent typhoons,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar in a statement.
The agri-fishery commodities covered by the price control are milkfish (cage-cultured) – P169; tilapia (pond-cultured, fresh-chilled) – P120; round scad or galunggong (imported) – P180; pork (pigue/kasim) – P260; pork (liempo) – P280; chicken (whole) – P130; sugar (refined) – P50; sugar (brown) – P45; red onion (fresh) – P100; garlic (fresh, imported) – P100; rice (imported): special – P52, premium – P43, and well-milled – P38; rice (local): special – P53, premium – P45, and well-milled – P40; round scad or galunggong (local) – P140 and (imported) – P180; chicken egg (medium) – P6.50 per piece; cooking oil (30 ml) – P25; and cooking oil (1 liter) – P50.
Price control on basic food commodities and basic necessities is automatically implemented in areas declared under a state of calamity for a period of not more than 60 days under Republic Act 7581 or the “Price Act.”
Dar likewise warned traders from exploiting the situation, stressing that the DA, DTI, DILG and LPCCs will not hesitate to file cases against them if they engage in manipulating supply, hoarding and jacking up prices, to the disadvantage of consumers.
“Any person or entity violating the Price Act shall be charged accordingly, with fine ranging from P5,000 to P2 million, and imprisonment of not less than five years but not more than 15 years,” Dar said.
Meanwhile, the Agriculture chief ordered all regional directors of the DA and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to monitor unaffected production areas and assess the viability of transporting farm and fishery commodities to Metro Manila and other major consumption centers.
He also instructed the DA’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) to deploy Kadiwa stores to augment food supply and ensure accessibility of affordable, nutritious food in typhoon-stricken areas.
The DA, Dar said, is allotting more than P6 billion worth of agricultural and fishery inputs, seeds, fertilizers and implements, financial aid and zero-interest emergency and livelihood loans, and crop insurance to assist farmers and fishers severely affected by typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses.
So far the country’s agriculture sector has incurred a combined P10.5 billion worth of damage and losses due to the three successive typhoons that struck Luzon and parts of the Visayas.