KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 24 March) – Prices of basic commodities, as well as tricycle fare, in this city have soared since the “enhanced community quarantine” began past midnight Monday despite calls to local traders to exercise restraint in increasing prices.
Nenita Maghari, resident of Barangay Poblacion in Makilala town, said a kilo of corn increased by at least P5. Just last week, she said the price was at P21 per kilo, but when she bought another kilo on Monday, it was already P26.
A kilo of Double V Diamond rice, among those considered as premium rice, is being sold in the market here at P56. A week ago, it was only P49.
In the Kidapawan City Mega Market, a tray of medium-sized eggs is now sold from P235 to P240 as compared to P175 last week, said Josef Sumaya of Barangay Singao.
Tricycle fare, meanwhile, spiked to at least three times compared to last week, before the city was placed under community quarantine.
Cristina Sumagaysay, of Barangay Manongol, said the tricycle fare hiked from P11 per passenger to P40 starting Monday.
“How can we survive if things like this go on? We no longer have enough resources to buy even the basic goods, then we are faced with exorbitant tricycle fare,” she lamented.
Ferdinand Cabiles, acting provincial director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in North Cotabato, said his office is regularly monitoring prices of basic goods.
This, however, does not include rice.
Cabiles said the monitoring of prices of rice is with the Department of Agriculture (DA) under the Price Act.
The DTI, he explained, cannot issue a “show cause order” to rice retailers suspected to have violated the Price Act as they might be charged with usurpation and abuse of authority.
“It should be the Department of Agriculture (DA) that will issue a ‘show cause order’ because the suggested retail price (SRP) for rice comes from them. That’s the reality on the ground as of now,” he stressed.
The DA in Region 12 has yet to issue a statement regarding the issue.
Cabiles said price freeze comes directly after President Rodrigo Duterte declared the nation under a state of calamity due to threats from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
But the price freeze under the DTI covers only basic goods like canned fish and marine products, processed milk, coffee, laundry soap, detergent, candles, bread, salt, potable water in containers, and instant noodles.
Meanwhile, the city government, through its Local Price Coordinating Council (LPCC), has started last week monitoring the prices of basic goods.
So far, the LPCC has not issued any statement if there are traders who are taking advantage of the situation, according to lawyer Jose Paolo Evangelista, city information officer.
Jabby Omandac, president of the Federation of Kidapawan Integrated Tricycle Association (F-KITA), denied there is an exorbitant increase in the tricycle fare but admitted there are tricycle drivers who would charge their passengers by at least three times higher than the authorized fare.
“We know how difficult the situation is. Our drivers have a hard time earning money at this time because they are limited to only two passengers per travel,” said Omandac.
Under Executive Order Number 30 issued on March 21 by Mayor Joseph Evangelista, each tricycle is allowed to carry only two passengers to observe the physical distancing of at least a meter apart. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)