Manila begins crackdown vs stores ‘overpricing’ N95 face masks

Rambo Talabong
Under the Philippine Consumer's Act, sellers found committing unfair sales practices can be fined up to P10,000 or imprisoned for up to one year

PRICE HIKE. Prices of face masks rise as Taal Volcano spews ash that falls on dozens of provinces and Metro Manila. File photo from Singapore Ministry of Health

MANILA, Philippines – The Manila City government has begun its crackdown on stores allegedly selling overpriced anti-particle masks, Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna announced on Monday, January 13.

Lacuna said they have received unverified reports of N95 filter masks that usually cost only P25 to P30 being sold for as high as P200. She ordered the Manila Bureau of Permits at Manila Licenses Office to conduct inspections.

Lacuna is currently Manila’s leader on the ground as Mayor Isko Moreno remained stranded in Hong Kong as flights were canceled due to Taal Volcano’s ash discharge.

What masks? N95 masks refer to respirators that block out at least 95% of very small particles.

Demand for the apparatus skyrocketed overnight after the Taal Volcano in Batangas spewed ash kilometers high into the air. The ash then spread and fell on localities in Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and Central Luzon.

Consequences: Aside from possible revocation of permits, the Consumer Act’s Section 52 bans Unfair or Unconscionable Sales Act or Practice, which bans sellers from exploiting buyers based on “physical or mental infirmity, ignorance, illiteracy, lack of time or the general conditions of the environment or surroundings.”

Those found to violate this prohibition can be fined from P500 to P10,000 or be imprisoned from 5 months to a year. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.