By Roy Stephen C. Canivel

DTI eyes partial lifting of price freeze on goods

Posted on September 15, 2016

THE DEPARTMENT of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it is considering recommending to President Rodrigo R. Duterte the lifting of the price freeze in areas that have “no unrest.”

The price freeze was imposed on basic commodities since the country was put in a state of emergency following the Sept. 2 Davao City bombing.

In a statement, DTI noted that basic necessities have remained at their prevailing prices following Proclamation No. 55, dated Sept. 4 and issued two days later. There have been on-the-spot reports, however, of the price freeze being ignored in certain parts of Metro Manila.

Violation of the price freeze corresponds to a penalty of as much as P1 million and/or imprisonment of up to 10 years.

Proclamation No. 55 declares a State of National Emergency on account of lawlessness in Mindanao after a bomb blast at a night market in Davao City killed at least 14 people and wounded scores of others.

The other basis of the price freeze is Republic Act (RA) No. 7581, or the Price Act, as amended by RA 10623, outlining the circumstances in which there would be an automatic price control, such as a declaration of a state of emergency.

“The DTI is bound by the Price Act to implement the price freeze but the same law states that we can recommend to the President to lift it sooner. Thus, we are doing further study if we can recommend such,” said DTI Consumer Protection Group (CPG) Undersecretary Teodoro C. Pascua in a statement.

The price freeze would be in effect on basic goods for 60 days from the date of Proclamation No. 55, and on household LPG and kerosene for 15 days.

In its statement, DTI said it is “now studying the possibility of lifting the price freeze at least in the areas where there is clearly no unrest.”

“Until we come out with an appropriate recommendation for the President, prices of basic goods remain to be frozen at their prevailing prices,” DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said.