Some of the country’s agri-fishery commodities, such as rice, pork, fish, and chicken, were sold in select markets in Metro Manila higher than their suggested retail price (SRP) almost throughout the holidays.
Based on the latest price monitoring report of the Department of Agriculture (DA), SRPs for rice, pork, chicken, and galunggong are not being followed at all, at least during the December 23 to 29 period.
For instance, for pork, the SRP for pigue and kasim has been set at P260 per kilogram (/kg), but its prevailing price as of December 29 stood at P320/kg. On December 23 and 28, its prevailing price stood at P300/kg. The DA has no price watch report on December and 25.
Liempo, on the other hand, has an SRP of P280/kg, but its prevailing price for December 23 stood at P330/kg, while it is P350/kg for December 28 and 29.
The price for chicken likewise went beyond its SRP of P130/kg. On December 23 and 28, its prevailing prices stood at P160/kg, while it increased a bit to P170/kg as of December 29.
Meanwhile, the prices of local and imported round scad or galunggong stood at P260/kg and P240/kg as of December 29, respectively, which are both higher than their respective SRPs of P140/kg and P180/kg.
As for rice, imported premium’s prevailing price as of December 29 stood at P45/kg, while its SRP was set at P43/kg.
The prevailing prices of local premium at P46/kg and well-milled at P44/kg also went beyond their SRPs of P45/kg and P44/kg.
In a virtual press briefing on Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that instead of galunggong, of which price already exceeded the P200/kg level, consumers should just buy fish products like bangus and tilapia, which are relatively cheaper.
“It’s the closed fishing season that’s why there’s a tightness in supply,” Dar said. “We have already approved the importation of 35,000 metric tons of galunggong”.
When asked if the DA already penalized anyone for not following the SRP, Dar only said the Department already made several complaints and that most of the cases are still for adjudication.
Under the Republic Act 7581, or the Price Act, the DA has the power to implement an SRP anytime “for the information and guidance of producers, manufacturers, traders, dealers, sellers, retailers and consumers”.
In November, Dar said he will make sure that the price freeze on some agricultural and fishery commodities is “strictly” observed in Luzon amid the declaration of state calamity in the region, which was badly battered by a series of typhoons.
He also stressed that the DA, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and local government units’ (LGUs) respective local price coordinating councils (LPCCs) will not hesitate to file cases against traders and sellers if they engage in manipulating supply, hoarding, and jacking up prices, to the disadvantage of consumers.
Any person or entity violating the Price Act shall be charged accordingly, with fines ranging from P5,000 to P2 million, and imprisonment of not less than five years but not more than 15 years.
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