THE DEPARTMENT of Trade and Industry (DTI) reminded businesses in areas under a state of calamity to comply with the price freeze for basic necessities.    

A total of 86 towns and cities across five regions have declared a state of calamity this month due to flooding and landslides triggered by continuous rains since mid-December, based on data as of Jan. 24 from the national disaster management agency.  

The regions affected are Mimaropa, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, and Davao.  

The prices of basic goods are automatically frozen at prevailing prices for sixty days once a state of calamity is declared in an area, as mandated under Republic Act No. 7851 or the Price Act, as amended by Republic Act No. 10623.  

“Aside from basic necessities, our regional and provincial offices’ monitoring teams also check for the price and supply of other commodities. We urge manufacturers to ensure adequate supply in these areas,Trade Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo said in a statement on Wednesday.     

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is in charge of monitoring prices of agricultural products. These include: rice; corn cooking oil; fresh, dried, and other marine products; fresh eggs; fresh pork, beef and poultry meat; fresh milk; fresh vegetables; root crops; sugar; and fresh fruits.   

The Department of Health (DoH) keeps watch on the price and supply of drugs classified as essential. 

Under the Price Act, business establishments found guilty of violating the price freeze will be charged with a penalty of imprisonment for a period of one to 10 years, or a fine ranging from P5,000 to P1 million, or both, at the discretion of the court.  

Meanwhile, the DTI said in a separate statement that Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual met with members of the National Price Coordinating Council on Wednesday to discuss measures that could mitigate the impact of surging onion prices on consumers and to improve local supply.   

The DA is in charge of monitoring and regulating the price of onion as mandated by the Price Act.    

According to the DTI, the meeting tackled some legal actions and possible solutions to soaring prices. 

The members of the council also came up with inter-agency initiatives to address the onion price issue.  

The meeting was attended by the DA, DoH, Department of Justice, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior and Local Government, and National Economic and Development Authority.   

“Given this crucial situation, we are to deliver immediate results to temper the prices of goods and ensure the availability of affordable basic necessities and prime commodities for consumers. We must tap other agencies who can be our allies in this endeavor,Mr. Pascual said. Revin Mikhael D. Ochave