Issue of February 9, 2020
     
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Price Act allows DA to penalize abusive food traders, retailers
by DA release

Following the increase in the prices of farm and fishery products like chicken, fish, and vegetables, Agriculture Sec. William Dar said the Department of Agriculture will implement Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act of 1992 that allows the agency to penalize abusive businesses that control the supply of agricultural commodities to their advantage.

Dar issued Department Order 3, where he invoked the agency’s powers under the Price Law.

The law was created to prevent and take action against individuals and entities that manipulate the prices of primary and basic commodities.

Violators of illegal price manipulation shall suffer imprisonment for a period of at least five years up to 15 years, and shall be imposed a fine of not less than P5,000 nor more than P2 million.

Under the Price Act, the DA is the main implementing agency in ensuring the stability of prices with reference to agricultural crops, fish and other marine products, fresh meat, fresh poultry and dairy products, and fertilizers, among other farm inputs.

Dar tasked concerned officials and staff to regularly monitor the food supply and price situation, particularly of poultry, fish and vegetables, as great discrepancies have been observed between farmgate and market retail prices, well-surpassing acceptable levels.

For instance, the average farmgate price of chicken is at P77 per kilo, and sells at the market price at P157 per kilo, registering a difference of P80, with more than 100 percent mark-up.

For imported galunggong, while its wholesale price ranges from P50 to P60 per kilo, it is retailed for up to P200 per kilo and the local ones are sold for up to P280 per kilo, making it more expensive than pork, ranging from P180 to P220 per kilo.

“These discrepancies demonstrate a gross and direct contravention of the prohibitions set forth by the Price Act,” Dar said.

“Obviously, some traders and sellers refuse to reduce prices to pre-Christmas levels, and are taking advantage of the recent eruption of Taal Volcano,” he added.

“With this latest Department issuance, we aim to protect the welfare of consumers, and farmers and fisherfolk – who are themselves, consumers,” the DA chief said.

“We warn unscrupulous and heartless businessmen, traders and retailers who take advantage of their countrymen. Rest assured that the guilty profiteers will not go unpunished in accordance with the law.”


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