As a member of the Department of Agriculture Bantay Presyo Task Force, the FPA provided assistance in the monitoring of the Suggested Retail Price (SRP) and price freeze on agri-fishery products during the implementation of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila.
DA Secretary William Dar said that the government is serious to apprehend and file cases against violators of SRP and price freeze if they continue to take advantage of the countrymen particularly during the current state of national emergency.
The task force has enforced appropriate charges to erring retailers, unscrupulous traders, and hoarders, for violating the Price Act or R.A. 7581 during their weekly monitoring in different public markets.
The Price Act protects consumers by stabilizing the prices of basic necessities and prime commodities, and by prescribing measures against undue price increases during emergency situations, natural occurrences or man-made disasters.
Further, the price freeze policy is contained under a joint memorandum circular forged by the DA, Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Health.
The price freeze covers all persons, including those who sell through the internet or other media. It sets a price ceiling for basic commodities “should the existence or effects of COVID-19 continue to persist beyond the 60-day period.”
The FPA recently submitted the names of personnel as additional members of the task force’s Price Monitoring Unit, Price Enforcement Unit, and the Bantay Advisory Committee.
The said different units of the task force has the following functions:
- Price monitoring. Conducts regular monitoring of prices and supply of agricultural commodities throughout the food supply chain, from the farm and fishing ground to various markets. The team will also analyze price trends, provide the basis for establishing SRP or price ceilings, develop a data system on prices, identify and investigate causes of market and price irregularities, and identify Price Act violations and violators;
- Enforcement. Issues a letter of inquiry (LOI) to retailers and traders found violating the SRP. It serves as a fact-finding unit that documents proof of the violation, and submits its report to the adjudication team.
- Adjudication. Files appropriate case against SRP violators, hoarders, and profiteers before the proper court.
Violators of the Price Act will be fined between P5,000 and P2 million and face imprisonment between five and 15 years.