The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) here is closely working with law enforcement agencies in going after sellers of disinfectant and medical supplies who take advantage of Negrenses amid the threat of coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
“We are strengthening our collaboration with these agencies to ensure that consumers are protected especially during this time of crisis,” said Rachel Nufable, DTI-Negros Occidental provincial director.
Nufable led personnel of DTI-Negros Occidental in meeting with representatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Bacolod on Tuesday, after coordinating with the group from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-Negros Occidental in Bacolod last week.
Nufable said they discussed the guidelines on the implementation of the prevailing 60-day price freeze, specifically the ceiling that should be followed by retail establishments.
On Tuesday afternoon, the NBI arrested three persons during an entrapment operation in a store on Galo Street here.
The suspects sold to the agents two bottles of 250 mL of ethyl alcohol at PHP90 each, which is way higher than the PHP41 ceiling price set by the DTI.
Also found in the possession of the suspects were 37 gallons of ethyl alcohol and 104 bottles of 250 mL alcohol.
Engiemar Tupas, officer-in-charge industry development division of DTI-Negros Occidental, said they have also been receiving reports of overpriced face masks and alcohol sold online.
As of Monday, at least three complaints from cities of Bacolod, San Carlos and Kabankalan have been lodged before their office.
“We warned these local online sellers and advised them to take down their posts. However, some of them continue to sell overpriced products,” he said.
For instance, alcohol products are sold from PHP500 to PHP1,000 each, which is more than triple the ceiling prices.
“Some of the products sold online are even adulterated as these have no brands and labels,” Tupas said.
He added that they have already forwarded the complaints to the NBI and the CIDG.
After President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of public health emergency on March 8, a 60-day automatic price control (APC), especially among basic necessities, took effect.
Other products covered by the price freeze include drugs and other medical supplies like face masks and alcohol classified as essential by the Department of Health (DOH).
The price of masks should be within the ceiling of PHP3 to PHP12 while alcohol should be sold in the range of PHP17.25 to PHP74.25 depending on the brand and net weight.
In a memorandum, the DTI said that online selling of any of these emergency medical supplies that are beyond the price ceiling is prohibited.
A seller who commits any act of illegal price manipulation or violation of the Price Act shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine of up to PHP2 million, it added. (Erwin Nicavera pna)