Profiteering raps await those selling overpriced face masks: DTI

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 15 2020 02:09 PM

MANILA -- Businessmen selling overpriced face masks will face profiteering charges, the Department of Trade and Industry said Wednesday as demand surged due to the eruption of the Taal Volcano.

Retailers cannot defy a prize freeze on face masks and medical supplies that was imposed by the Department of Health, Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said.

This includes prices of N95 masks which should range from P45 to P105, and disposable face masks which should range from P1.10 to P8.

“Any centavo higher than the price ceiling imposed by the DOH will be an offense already,” Castelo told reporters in Malacañang.

Selling overpriced face masks is a form of profiteering which is punishable with imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine ranging from P5,000 to P1 million under the Price Act.

“Those who are found to have committed profiteering or any other illegal act of price manipulation will be dealt with to the highest extent of the law,” Castelo said.

“Bahala silang magdepensa ng kaso nila doon sa hearing (Let them defend their case before the court),” she added.

Earlier this week, Manila Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan said she received reports of profiteering from the calamity with face masks sold for P200 from P25 to P30 apiece before the eruption.