Cebu City to go after online sellers overpricing alcohol, face masks

ONLINE sellers jacking up the prices of alcohol and face masks will soon find themselves in trouble.

City Attorney Rey Gealon said the Cebu City government is tracing the identities of online sellers and Facebook users who are selling alcohol and protective masks at prices higher than the suggested retail prices set by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The DTI earlier issued a price freeze on products, including alcohol and face masks, due to the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Gealon said there are personnel tasked to monitor these opportunistic sellers.

The City is also coordinating with the National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine National Police to address the issue, he added.

Gealon said they already have the names of these violators, but he refused to release the list because the identities have yet to be verified.

“We cannot release it because some are not using their real names. That has to be investigated. We are really looking into the IP (Internet Protocol) address,” he said. An IP address is “a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication.”

He said these online sellers violate not only the Consumer Act but also the City’s Omnibus Tax Ordinance for operating a business online without securing a business permit and not paying business tax.

If found guilty of violations, these individuals may face administrative or criminal charges, he added.

Gealon also warned that if they find stores overpricing goods such as alcohol and face masks, the City can revoke their business permit or issue a closure order.

He said there is a resource person assigned in the field to monitor stores and pharmacies.

In an executive order signed by Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella on Friday, March 13, 2020, the DTI is mandated to ensure that the price freeze is implemented. Those guilty of profiteering shall be reported for cancellation of business permit and padlocked for indefinite closure.

Information on the prices of basic commodities must be made available in all information channels every day, the order states. (JJL, PAC/ JKV)