Three municipalities in Palawan were placed under strict monitoring by the local Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) recently after they topped last year’s list of areas with business establishments that failed to comply with the suggested retail price (SRP) of prime commodities.

DTI specialist Welson Paz said El Nido, Taytay, and Bataraza are now under their close watch because of the failure of business establishments to comply with the SRP law.

Paz said the local government units (LGUs) of these towns should monitor the SRP compliance of business owners and operators to be fair to consumers.

“Ang ating binabantayan ay El Nido, Taytay, and Bataraza. Actually, nawala ‘yong Coron [sa listahan] kaya ngayon bumaba na sila base sa monitoring. ‘Yan ang binabantayan natin ngayon, at titignan natin ngayong 2019 kung ganyan pa rin ba. [Sa] El Nido ilang beses na kaming pabalik-pabalik,” Paz said Tuesday.

The establishments in the three towns, he said, were called to a hearing to explain where they based their prices and to warn them to comply with the SRP or suffer the consequences.

He said the erring businesses have already committed to follow the SRP.

The DTI will continuously check their compliance, he said.

Under the law, “any person who violates Section 6 or 7 of Republic Act 7581 or The Price Act shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment for a period of not less than one year nor more than 10 years of a fine of not less than P5,000 nor more than P1 million, or both, at the discretion of the court.”

“Halos lahat ng ating mga major supermarkets doon ay nagkaroon tayo ng dialogue sa kanila, inalam natin kung bakit ganoon ng presyuhan nila at nag-commit din sila [na aayusin]. Ayaw din naman natin na malugi naman sila, ma-deprive ang kanilang right na magkaroon ng income. Pero itama sana at i-comply ang batas,” he added.

He said the owners attributed the increase in SRPs to transportation costs in bringing the products from the city to their municipalities.

The DTI advised them to lower the price of at least one of the brands of the same product they are selling to the public so consumers can still have a cheaper option.

During the last quarter of 2018, the DTI started to post the SRPs in establishments to ensure compliance of the establishments and the awareness of the consumers.

“Ang isang napansin natin kasi noong last quarter nag-post tayo, noong mga nakaraan wala pa. Noong last quarter, sinubukan natin mag-post pati yong ating noche buena products, nakita natin na nag-adjust sila sa SRP. ‘Yong iba ibinaba nila, ipinantay nila,” he pointed out.

During the agency’s monitoring last year, three establishments in Puerto Princesa City have been identified as SRP non-compliant, but when informed of their violation, they immediately corrected their prices.