Govt. execs to go after illegal traders of ‘essential products’

·4 min read

OFFICIALS from local, national and police offices are warning individuals that they could face criminal charges if they are caught jacking up prices of essential commodities such as water and fuel to take advantage of those who have been affected by Typhoon Odette (Rai).

Following complaints he received concerning the sudden increase in prices of bottled water and generator sets in Odette-affected areas, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said he plans to have his personnel on the ground immediately check every retailer allegedly involved in the scheme and charge them criminally.

“I have instructed our Consumer Protection Group and Regional Offices to immediately check the retailers and apprehend business owners who are profiteering and unduly increasing prices of consumer goods, especially at this time when we are recovering from the damage caused by Typhoon Odette,” said Lopez in a statement Tuesday, December 21, 2021.

“We will not allow the public to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals, and we will not hesitate to file charges against these individuals to the full extent of the law.”

Lopez asked the public to report to DTI the stores that are jacking up their prices to penalize them.

The public can report any incidents of overpricing or hoarding through the following channels—Facebook: DTI.Cebu, DTI Cebu Email: r07.Cebu@dti.gov.ph and mobile hotline: +63 917 818 8419 with proof/evidence.

For their part, officials from DTI Central Visayas said they have been conducting daily price and supply monitoring in 26 major grocery stores and supermarkets in Metro Cebu and affected municipalities.

“Reports from the field indicate that prices in these major establishments are generally within reasonable levels,” said DTI 7 Director Ma. Elena Arbon.

“Likewise, our retailers are informing us that there is sufficient inventory of basic necessities; however, there are challenges in transferring goods from warehouses to store shelves.”

Arbon, however, acknowledged a shortage in bottled water. She said her office has already asked its head office to coordinate with Manila-based suppliers to augment local supplies.

On the other hand, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia made sure that individuals who will buy petroleum products will buy them for their personal use.

Through her Executive Order (EO) 50, Garcia prohibited vehicle owners from buying fuel using barrels, drums and other containers.

“The drawing of gasoline or diesel fuel shall be directed to the tank and limited only to the full tank capacity of each vehicle,” Garcia’s order states.

But there are exemptions as hospitals, hotels, banks and essential and public service establishments are allowed to store fuel using containers provided they can show proof of the nature of their business.

Garcia also prohibited gas stations and other authorized gasoline and fuel dealers from increasing their prices over and above the existing rates.

Lapu-Lapu City

To counter unscrupulous retailers taking advantage of the post-typhoon situation, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan issued Executive Order 2021-078.

Chan’s order included, among other things, a provision ordering the local police to arrest anyone caught selling essential items that are overpriced or items that were illegally fenced.

Chan said he has asked the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office (LLCPO) to look out for unscrupulous sellers of gasoline, drinking water and even food.

Junk shops in the city were prohibited from buying or selling electrical wires, transformers and bronze or copper materials that were believed to have been stolen somewhere else.

“Dili karon ang panahon nga mo-take advantage ta sa atong isigktawo. Dapat gani magtinabangay ta,” said Chan.

Chan also implemented a price ceiling for basic commodities such as food supplies, bottled water and gasoline in his EO.

Mandaue City

Safety personnel from Mandaue City warned individuals selling gasoline in bottles that such will be confiscated once they are caught.

Superintendent Noel Nelson Ababon from the Mandaue City Fire Office told SunStar Cebu on Tuesday, December 21, that Mayor Jonas Cortes had directed them to confiscate the products once an individual is caught illegally selling it.

Ababon said selling of gasoline in containers or bottles is not allowed since these can cause fire incidents, citing that it is highly flammable material.

Liloan

Liloan Mayor Christina Frasco also issued orders to regulate the selling of gasoline and petroleum products in her town.

Frasco said any overpricing of gasoline would result in the immediate suspension of the gasoline station’s business permit.

The mayor also instructed her town’s police force to confiscate the goods of illegal resellers of gasoline products.

From 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. all gasoline stations will cater only to emergency, frontliner, and government or government authorized vehicles. Gasoline stations will be closed from 5 to 8 p.m.

The general public can only fill up their tanks from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. and selling of gasoline to people with barrels is prohibited except for diesel intended for electric generators.

Talisay City

Local police in Talisay City were also instructed to verify reports that some individuals have been selling overpriced gasoline products.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Randy Caballes told SunStar Cebu on Tuesday that his personnel have started verifying reports they received from several complainants.

Caballes added that these individuals were already given a warning and will be apprehended if they will not stop their illegal operations. (KOC, JKV, IRT, MKG)

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting