Price freeze remains in force in quake-hit Surigao – DTI

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/18 February) — A price freeze on basic commodities continues to be enforced in the city, an official reminded local businessmen and consumers.

Celestino Negapatan, provincial director of the Department of Trade and Industry in Surigao del Norte told MindaNews in a phone interview Friday that the price freeze was based on Resolution No. 23-2017 dated Feb. 11, 2017 of the city council.

He said basic goods shall be sold at prevailing prices, which shall be the average prices within a month from the occurrence of the state of calamity. He added they were monitoring the prices.

But several consumers said some prices of goods like milk, sardines, and selected brands of soap had increased after the February 10 quake.

“There‘s an increase of 10-30 cents a piece,” a grocer admitted to MindaNews.

Negapatan explained that under Republic Act 7581 as amended, basic necessities include the following: rice, corn, bread, fresh, dried and canned fish and other marine products, fresh pork, beef and poultry meat, fresh eggs, fresh and processed milk, fresh vegetables, root crops, coffee, sugar, cooking oil and salt.

Also in the list are laundry soap, detergents, firewood, charcoal, candles, drugs classified as essentials by the Department of Health, potable water in bottles and containers, fresh fruits, locally manufactured instant noodles, households liquefied petroleum gas and kerosene, he said.

He added that unless sooner lifted, the price freeze under R.A. 7581 shall remain effective for the duration of the condition that caused it but not for more than 60 days, provided that for household LPG and kerosene the duration shall not be more than 15 days.

“All concerned are warned that violators shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment for a period of one year to ten years, or a fine ranging form P5,000 to P1,000,000 or both at the discretion of the court aside form applicable administrative penalties,” he said.

The official said a water refilling station was reportedly selling at 50 pesos instead of the usual 15-25 pesos per container.

“We went to this water station told them to bring back the price,” he said.

Consumers also complained that prices of fish at the city public market had increased.

Negapatan said the DTI has no jurisdiction on the prices of fish sold at the public market but the local price monitoring committee under the city mayor can do something about it.

Fish vendors at the public market told MindaNews this afternoon that it is normal for them to increase the prices if there is low supply.

Benilda Ballescas, a fish vendor, cited bad weather and the full moon as the reasons for the low supply of fish.

Grace Pilapil, another fish vendor, admitted that there are those who took advantage of the situation.

She said only bangus or milkfish was not affected by the increase because it comes from fish ponds. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)