52 establishments in C. Visayas asked to explain price freeze violations

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THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Central Visayas provincial offices issued 52 letters of inquiry (LOI) to retail establishments that have violated the Price Freeze Order.

As of Dec. 24, 50 letters of inquiry had already been issued across the entire province of Bohol. This data is still partial as DTI Bohol is verifying incoming data transmitted by the monitoring teams.

In Cebu, two out of 137 establishments monitored were issued letters of inquiry. This means the retail stores have to explain to the DTI why they were selling basic necessities at prices beyond the amounts set at the price freeze.

If the explanation of those issued letters of inquiry for violation of the price freeze is found by DTI to be unjustified, a notice of violation (NOV) will be issued.

According to Ines Cajegas, chief of the DTI Cebu Consumer Protection Division, violators of the price freeze are given three working days to respond to the LOI.

For the NOV, violators should appear before a DTI adjudication officer within 48 hours. If they refuse to admit their violation, there will be a formal charge.

According to Section 6 of Republic Act 7581, as amended by RA 10623, prices of basic necessities in areas declared under a state or emergency and calamity shall automatically be frozen in their prevailing prices.

The price freeze shall remain in effect for 60 days unless lifted by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The DTI is coordinating with the local government units (LGU) in monitoring the establishments’ compliance with the price freeze issued.

If there is an alleged violation by establishments, LGUs can suspend, revoke or cancel the establishments’ business permit, which gives them the license to operate.

Under the Price Act, an administrative fine of P1,000 to P1 million is meted for violation of the price ceilings (automatic and mandated).

The public may also reach out to their respective LGUs with corresponding proof and identifiable location so the agency can act on their complaints immediately. (JOB with PR)

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