MANILA, Philippines – A little over two weeks since Typhoon Odette devastated dozens of provinces in the country, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has apprehended at least 69 price violators in affected areas, it said in a statement on Sunday, January 2.
The DTI has issued 69 show cause orders and letters of inquiry, and has confiscated overpriced construction and hardware supplies.
The typhoon pushed the department to intensify its price monitoring operations. It set out to find overpriced consumer goods, such as power generator sets, construction materials, and fuel products in Odette-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,” said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.
“We will not hesitate to apprehend violators,” he added.
Typhoon Odette made landfall at least nine times from December 16 to 17, triggering forced evacuations and leaving swaths of destruction in parts of all island groups in the Philippines. It destroyed homes, uprooted trees, and toppled power lines. Some areas remain without electricity even after the new year.
President Rodrigo Duterte warned on December 27 that he would order the arrest of hoarders taking advantage of the crisis.
“Tell us if there has been a violation, or violations, during this time because we can identify them. And the Philippine National Police, we will ask them to arrest the hoarders and people who are taking advantage of the situation,” Duterte said, addressing the DTI.
While apprehending price freeze violators, the DTI said it has also begun the distribution of livelihood kits or pangkabuhayan packages to typhoon-affected microentrepreneurs.
Among the recipients were 1,036 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from the provinces of Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Bohol, Cebu, Southern Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Guimaras, and Iloilo.
The DTI has an estimated P150 million to bring livelihood kits to around 2,000 beneficiaries per typhoon-affected province. It allotted P8,000 to P10,000 per beneficiary, or around P20 million per province.
This would translate to helping entrepreneurs in around seven and a half provinces, but government numbers show that at least 38 provinces were affected by the typhoon.
Lopez also earlier announced that Small Business Corporation, an attached agency and financing arm of DTI, will provide P500 million for MSME lending. Affected entrepreneurs may avail of the loans at zero interest and no collateral requirement. The fund will also have a grace period that will not require immediate principal payment. – Rappler.com