MANILA, Philippines - Supermarket chains are slowly killing public markets or palengkes in the country, an official of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said on Tuesday.
Trade and Industry Undersecretary for consumer welfare Zenaida Cuison Maglaya told ABS-CBN News that public markets are struggling in the face of competition with large supermarket chains that offer cheaper products in a clean and sanitary environment.
"Savemore and Puregold Jr. are putting up right in front of the markets. (The supermarkets) used to open around 9 a.m. or 10 a.m., but now they are opening earlier at 6 a.m. They sell the same vegetables, poultry and meat products, sometimes even cheaper... The markets won't survive," Maglaya said.
The current state of palengkes are a far cry from the past years when they were considered as flourishing commercial centers in towns and barangays throughout the country.
These days, it is a common sight to find Savemore Supermaket or Puregold Jr. near the palengkes. Owned by the SM Group, Savemore Supermarket has 43 branches around the country. Puregold Price Club, owned by the Co family, began operating its community supermarkets called Puregold Jr. in 2008.
Many consumers prefer going to supermarkets because they offer better consumer protection, unlike public markets where some unscrupulous vendors fail to use properly calibrated weighing scales.
To encourage the improvement of public markets, the DTI is mulling the possibility of giving Bagwis Awards to palengkes. The Bagwis Award is the DTI seal of approval in recognition of business establishments selling products and services with great value, durability and safety.
"We want to make sure that the weighing scales are calibrated and ensure that there are no 'double dead' meats being sold and that the market is clean," Maglaya said.