The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will probe the spike in pork prices amid allegations of market manipulation.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra issued Department Order No. 029 on Monday, February 8, authorizing the NBI to conduct case buildup for possible violations of the Price Act or Republic Act No. 7581, as well as Monopolies and Combinations in Restraint of Trade or Article 186 of the Revised Penal Code.
“The NBI is hereby directed to conduct an investigation…specifically on the existence and operation of certain groups allegedly manipulating the supply and price of pork and other basic foodstuff,” Guevarra said in the order.
President Rodrigo Duterte approved price ceilings on February 1, effective for 60 days. Pork (pigue) cannot exceed P270 per kilo, while pork liempo is capped at P300 per kilo and dressed chicken at P160 per kilo.
Before that, prices soared, with pork costing roughly the same as premium lean beef. Ham prices reached as high as P400 per kilo, and pork belly as high as P450 per kilo.
The hog industry struggled with supply due to outbreaks of African swine fever, as well as constraints in capital amid the coronavirus-triggered recession.
Pork sellers have complained about the price ceiling, saying that the spikes are caused by the costs of feeds and transport from their sources.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said traders are the ones manipulating prices, since the break-even point for selling pork is only around P105 per kilo. – Rappler.com