MANILA—The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) tightens its surveillance and monitoring activities to ensure compliance among commercial establishments and supermarkets amid rising prices of goods. DTI, through its Consumer Protection and Advocacy Bureau (CPAB), officially released on 12 August 2022 the updated suggested retail price (SRP) for basic necessities and prime commodities (BNPCs) as well as school supplies, taking into consideration the price of raw materials and distribution costs.
“The main function of the SRP Bulletin is to inform and guide retailers and consumers, protect them from deceitful or unconscionable transactions, and give consumers the freedom to choose the product they prefer at a price they can afford,” DTI Secretary Alfredo Pascual said.
DTI as one of the implementing agencies of the Price Act (Republic Act No. 7581), as amended, with the DTI Secretary as the Chairman of the National Price Coordinating Council (NPCC), is mandated to coordinate and rationalize government programs aimed to stabilize prices and supplies of commodities.
The Price Act ensures that basic necessities and prime commodities are available and reasonably priced at all times while legitimate businesses get a fair return on investment. Further, it defines the jurisdiction of different government agencies in terms of price monitoring.
Under the Price Act, the DTI monitors the prices and supply of canned fish and other marine products, processed milk, coffee, bread, salt, laundry soap, detergent, candles; and Prime Commodities such as flour, processed and canned pork, processed and canned beef, and poultry meat, noodles, vinegar, patis, soy sauce, toilet paper, soap, and school supplies. The Department of Agriculture (DA) is primarily responsible for monitoring the prices of agricultural produce such as rice corn, cooking oil, fresh, dried fish and other marine products, fresh eggs, fresh pork, beef and poultry meat, fresh milk, fresh vegetables, root crops, sugar, chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizer, as well as veterinary products and swine and cattle feeds. On the other hand, the Department of Health (DOH) is in charge of drugs and medicines.
“The Department has a system of monitoring the prices of basic necessities and prime commodities in accordance with the provisions of the Price Act. Our Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) conducts weekly monitoring to check the prices and supplies of BNPCs. This serves as the basis for the issuance of SRP,” Sec. Pascual said.
For some stock keeping units (SKUs) with prices above SRP, especially during calamities, DTI issues Letters of Inquiry (LOI) to concerned establishments giving them the opportunity to explain. Show Cause Orders are also issued to supermarkets and groceries selling goods priced over 10% from the monitored price, which is a prima facie evidence of profiteering.
Meanwhile, the Price Act places an automatic price freeze of basic necessities over areas where there is a declared State of Calamity or Emergency. From 01 January 2020 to 07 July 2022, 9 administrative cases have already been filed against firms that violated the DTI price freeze orders. The President may likewise impose a price ceiling on any basic necessity or prime commodity, which may be monitored by an appointed agency.
“We would like to ensure the public that DTI will continue to champion consumer protection. Through our provincial and regional offices, we will continue to conduct regular price and supply monitoring and will also cooperate with other government agencies to ensure that Filipinos will have access to affordable goods and services,” Sec. Pascual said.