The government’s Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) are urged to level up protection to consumers in the light of extraordinary increases in the prices of basic and prime commodities amid the ongoing national economic and health crises caused by the existence since March last year of coronavirus-19 pandemic.
Workers group Associated Labor Unions (ALU) said workers particularly those receiving minimum wage express outrage over the exorbitant hike in prices of basic food items such as rice, vegetables, livestock meat and poultry products including cooking fuel liquified petroleum product (LPG) ranging from 10% to 130% sold at public markets, grocery stores and supermarkets.
Workers noted the increments in prices picked up a week leading to the traditional Christmas family celebration and New Year revelry despite of the 60-day price freeze imposed by multi-government agencies task force beginning November 18, 2020 to January 17, 2021 on basic and prime commodities.
“The combined government agencies had already identified the gaps and problematic layers giving rise to these runaway prices of basic food commodities, the DA and the DTI now have to step up their price regulation mandate and level up their enforcement to further improve protection of consumers particularly against profiteers, supply hoarders and middlemen victimizing retailers and ordinary people, ” said ALU national executive vice president Gerard Seno.
The labor group– with unionized workers across manufacturing, services and agriculture industries– said the DA and DTI must bring prices of these basic commodities down to reasonable level as soon as possible.
The two agencies must also move beyond mere token market inspections and other media photo-ops in groceries and supermarkets and improve consumer protection by issuing show-cause orders and notices of violations to erring businesses who raise prices right under their noses, the group said.
The issuance of show-cause orders and notices of violations on the violators of the Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act will begin address profiteering issues from manufacturing, distribution and supply, to retail levels, he said.