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Philippine president Duterte orders 60-day price freeze on essential goods amid pandemic

Duterte said the concession contracts of Manila Water and Maynilad Water Services Inc. are disadvantageous to the public because they prohibit the government from adjusting water rates. Photo: STAR. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

MANILA, Mar 21, 2020, NST. The government has imposed a 60-day nationwide freeze on basic commodities. This follows a declaration from President Rodrigo Duterte for a state of calamity in the Philippines due to the Covid-19 pandemic, New Straits Times reported.

According to the Manila Times, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the price freeze would be effective until May 15.

The price freeze covers all persons, including those who sell basic goods through the Internet and other media, read a joint memorandum circular of the Trade and Industry, Agriculture, and Health Departments.

The implementing agencies will create a composite team that would intensify monitoring and enforcement of the price freeze to prevent and control overpricing and hoarding.

Under the memorandum, implementing agencies can also recommend a price ceiling for basic commodities should the existence or effects of Covid-19 continue to persist beyond the 60-day period.

“Any person or entity found overpricing, profiteering or hoarding will be imprisoned for a minimum of five years but not more than 15 years.”

Consumers can report violators to the Trade and Industry Department’s hotline 1-384 or to the nearest police station.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles said the price freeze was to make sure that food and essential goods “remain affordable to all”.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said his department would continue to implement the suggested retail price for selected agriculture and fishery products during the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.

The basic commodities covered are pork, chicken, brown sugar, refined sugar, bangús, tilapia, galunggong, garlic and red onion.

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