Several provinces, cities declare state of calamity

(UPDATE) Several provinces are now under a state of calamity, following days of torrential rains brought by the southwest monsoon.

As of Wednesday, these areas are now under state of calamity: Obando, Bulacan; Bataan; Laguna; Pampanga; Cainta, Rizal; Valenzuela City; Malabon City; San Mateo, Rizal; Muntinlupa City; Province of Zambales.

A state of calamity declaration would allow the release and use of emergency funds, especially for rescue and relief efforts.

In areas under a state of calamity, the government will also control the prices of basic commodities, a Cabinet official said.

"Price control is automatically imposed when an area in a state of calamity so traders cannot take advantage of the situation," Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said in a phone interview.

For other flood-hit areas where states of calamity have not been announced, Domingo said price monitoring teams will be deployed starting tomorrow to ensure that basic commodities--including sardines, noodles, rice and sugar--are being sold within the suggested retail price (SRP).

"Traders who sell above the SRP will be asked to explain and there will be penalties if the price increase is unwarranted," Domingo said.

The Trade department has yet to receive any complaints of overpricing from consumers, Domingo said.

"We have also checked the supply of goods and most supermarkets and groceries remain open so far while disrupted deliveries are minimal," he added.

Domingo said he expects prices to remain stable except for fish and vegetables, even as he added that these will "stabilize" as soon as the floods subside.

Prices of vegetables, which may increase due to damaged crops, will likely recover in three weeks, he said.

Fish prices, meanwhile, will go back to normal as soon as the weather allows fishing.

"I think the floods will have no long-term effect of prices," Domingo said.

Oil retailers have meanwhile hiked fuel prices earlier today amid floods.

Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and Total (Philippines) Inc. increased prices by P0.80 a liter for gasoline and P0.40 a liter for diesel. SeaOil Philippines, Inc. is also expected to increase prices Wednesday morning.

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