DTI urged to ensure supply of basic commodities in calamity-hit areas

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

SENATOR Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV called on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and local government units (LGUs) on Thursday to ensure supply of basic goods and other important commodities in areas devastated by Typhoon Glenda (Rammasun) to avoid hike in prices.

"We must ensure that there's enough supply of basic goods and other commodities in areas severely damaged by the recent typhoon, especially in the Bicol region," said Aquino, chairman of the Senate committee on trade, commerce and entrepreneurship.

"Usually, prices of basic products in areas devastated by typhoons and other calamities increase because of supply problems," added Aquino.

Aquino also reminded businesses in areas placed under a state of calamity to abide by the 60-day price freeze imposed by the DTI. These areas are Obando, Bataan, Muntinlupa, Cavite, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, and Gumaca, Quezon.

Under Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act, an automatic price freeze is imposed in areas placed under state of calamity to ensure that goods remained at prevailing prices until the state of calamity is lifted.

"The clearing of roads due to fallen trees and other debris is crucial to the delivery of goods to typhoon stricken areas. We call on communities to help out our agencies to ensure our thoroughfares are passable," Aquino added.

Aquino said among the products covered by the price freeze are basic non-agricultural necessities, including canned fish and other canned marine products, processed milk, coffee, laundry soap, detergents, candles, bread, and salt.

Also included in price freeze are fresh vegetables, roots crops, sugar, cooking oil, firewood, charcoal and medicine classified as essential by the Department of Health.

A fine of up to P1,000,000 and a maximum 10-year jail sentence await violators of the Price Act.

"The Price Act ensures availability of basic necessities and prime commodities at reasonable prices at all times without denying legitimate business a fair return on investment," the senator said.

In addition, the lawmaker also appealed to businessmen to keep the cost of construction and building materials down as a way of helping those rebuilding their homes destroyed by the typhoon.

Recently, Aquino filed a bill seeking to establish emergency depots to combat hoarding, price manipulation and inflation during calamities.

In his Senate Bill 2215, Aquino said that emergency depots will provide survivors of natural or man-made calamities quick access to affordable basic goods and other prime commodities.

"Community depots will ensure that goods in the market would be available to avoid hoarding in affected areas and protect survivors from price manipulation during times of crisis," said Aquino. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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