Some QC vendors struggle with price freeze; DA insists strict compliance

Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 20 2020 07:48 PM

MANILA—Prices of pork, fish and vegetables have gone up in Quezon City, days after President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of calamity in all of Luzon, following a string of typhoons that battered the country in recent weeks.

This developed despite the Department of Agriculture (DA) freezing prices on selected basic goods and commodities following the declaration.

Unlike with a suggested retail price, in which traders and retailers are given a 10-percent margin to increase or decrease the prices of their goods, no such accommodation are given traders in a price freeze.

A total of 11 commodities are covered by the freeze, including rice, eggs, pork, chicken, fish and sugar.

Pork belly (liempo), as of Friday, was sold at P350 per kilo at the wet market in Kamuning. This price is higher compared to the P280 per kilo price freeze imposed by the DA.

Pork ham (pigue), meanwhile, cost P320 per kilo at the market. The DA, however, said this should only be sold at P260 per kilo.

But pork vendor Baby Pernia explained the price freeze cannot be implemented since their suppliers hiked prices.

“Yung binibigay sa aming SRP, mas mababa pa sa puhunan namin. Paano namin susundin ang SRP nila? Alam naman nilang hindi lang dito mataas ang baboy. . . Kahit naman sa ibang palengke ganun din. Kung may diperensya konti lang. Dumedepende rin kami sa bigay ng supplier,” Pernia said.

(The SRP is lower than our capital investment. How could we follow their SRP? We are not the only market selling higher pork prices. Our rates are not that high, it depends on the prices of the supplier.)

“Pag bumili kami ng liempo, halimbawa kinulang ako ng liempo, bibili ako sa kapwa ko tindera, magkano ang bigay sa amin? P300-P320. Saan namin kukunin ang P280 na presyo ng liempo?” she added.

(If we buy liempo from another seller, it is sold at P300 to P320. Where will we find liempo priced at P280?)

But Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the price freeze would be strictly implemented in areas under a state of calamity, warning traders from exploiting the situation.

“Ang isang dapat nating warningan 'yung mga trader na huwag naman itong pagsasamantala. Ito gagawin nila, alam natin halos lahat tayo apektado, mas lalo na 'yung mga farmers at consuming public,” Dar said.

(Traders should not take advantage of this situation. We know we are all affected but farmers and the consuming public are mostly hit.)

“Patriotism nila ang ating hinihikayat, na tumulong po na huwag samantalahin na masyadong mataas 'yung benta nila sa mga vendor,” he added.

(We encourage patriotism, for people to help and not take advantage of selling goods at a higher price.)

Chicken, fish prices

Chicken prices were stable at the Kamuning Public Market as of Friday, but fish prices increased.

A kilo of milkfish or bangus was at P200 to P240, compared to the P169 per kilo imposed by the DA.

A kilo of tilapia, meanwhile, cost P140, higher than the P120 per kilo imposed on the price freeze.

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Fish vendor George Serrano said having fewer buyers due to the recent typhoons, on top of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Pare-parehas lang ang pricelist. Ang problema yung bentahan. Yung pagbebenta, yun ang nagbago. Tumumal… Marami na rin nagtitinda sa mga kalsada,” Serrano said.

(The pricelist is the same. The problem is how we sell it. It changed. There are many vendors who started selling on the streets.)

Consumer Norie Flores said the government’s price freeze has not been followed because the prices of several items, including vegetables, have shot up.

“Ang mamahal ng gulay ngayon. Halos kalahati ang itinaas. Dahil sa nagdaang bagyo kaya ganun. Tumaas siya. Ang hirap, minsan hindi na ako bumibili,” Flores told ABS-CBN News.

(Vegetables are expensive nowadays, it rose to almost half of its original price. It may be because of the typhoons. It is hard, sometimes I no longer want to buy.)

While the prices of garlic have not moved at P100 per kilo, the onion prices have increased to P200 per kilo from P100.

Joseph Peralta said vendors like him cannot do anything but pass the price adjustments to buyers.

“Medyo matumal pa po eh. Hindi pa nakakabawi. Hindi pa normal. Yung sibuyas, pinakamataas ang P200,” Peralta said.

(We do not have a lot of buyers. We haven’t even reached our target. The onion prices shot up the most to P200.)