The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) issued violation notices to erring retailers as it intensified its price monitoring operations to apprehend price freeze violators in typhoon-affected regions.
To date, the Department has issued 69 show cause orders (SCOs) and letters of inquiry (LOIs) and confiscated overpriced construction and hardware supplies, such as those in Surigao del Norte.
The campaign covered overpriced consumer goods, including power generator sets, construction materials, and fuel products in typhoon-hit areas.
“We reiterate our strong warning against the profiteers. Our DTI regional teams and the Consumer Protection Group (CPG), in collaboration with the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), have been relentless in this drive to catch profiteers and hoarders who are taking advantage of our countrymen who are already suffering from the damages caused by typhoon Odette. We will not hesitate to apprehend violators,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.
In a public address on December 27, President Rodrigo Duterte had warned that he would order the arrest of hoarders and profiteers as he directed agencies to stop these illegal activities.
In the meantime, DTI has jumpstarted the distribution of livelihood Kits or pangkabuhayan packages to typhoon-affected microentrepreneurs, as it started the distribution to the first 1,036 identified beneficiaries in the last 3 days of December. Among the recipients were MSMEs from the provinces of Siargao, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Bohol, Cebu, Southern Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Guimaras, and Iloilo.
With an initial fund of P8 million readily available for distribution, the program immediately heeded the call of the President to bring government services to the typhoon victims as soon as possible. This is part of the estimated P150 million fund to bring livelihood kits to around 2,000 beneficiaries per typhoon-affected province, with around P8,000-10,000 per beneficiary, or around P20 million per province.
Sec. Lopez also earlier announced that the Small Business Corporation (SBCorp), an attached agency and financing arm of DTI, shall also provide a P500 million fund for micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) lending. The fund will be offered at zero interest, with no collateral requirement, and with a grace period that will not require immediate principal payment to allow the affected MSMEs some time to recover from the damages of typhoon Odette.