MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday ordered the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to look into reports of profiteering and overpricing in provinces affected by typhoon Odette.
Duterte also gave the DTI the authority to implement price caps on basic goods, including medicines and construction materials.
"There seems to be a spike in prices. They say some, not all, are hoarding, and you know, you increase the price by selling more than the usual price, for example, building materials, or food stocks, canned goods," he said in a taped public briefing.
"Tell us, if there has been violations during this time because we can identify them and the Philippine National Police, we will ask them to arrest the hoarders and people who are taking advantage of the situation," Duterte added.
"We have to put a stop on this and probably we can go ahead and cap the prices of the goods available, especially medicine," he also said.
In response, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said they have already issued letters of inquiry to several establishments who were reportedly overpricing their products.
"Noong nagdeclare ng state of calamity, nag-umpisa na 'yung ating price cap. So may price control na tayo, ibig sabihin 'yung price freeze natin, kung ano 'yung presyo bago magbagyo, 'yun po dapat ang presyo, hindi gagalaw," he explained.
(When the state of calamity was declared, the price cap also took effect. So we already have a price control, which means there is a price freeze. Whatever the prices were before the typhoon hit, these should still be the prices after. There should be no changes.)
"The day after, I think hanggang 2 days after, habang nagkakagulo pa rin, marami ho talaga ang nareport na nag-price increase, nagsamantala," Lopez added.
(The day after, until 2 days after, while everything was chaotic, there were many reports of price increases, some took advantage of it.)
A total of 50 establishments in Bohol were asked to explain the increase in the prices of their goods, while 2 establishments in Cebu where issued letters of inquiry (LOI).
In Misamis Oriental, 8 establishments were issued LOIs, and 7 were issued show-cause orders.
Lopez said businesses that were flagged immediately reverted their prices.
"After na-apprehend sila, kino-correct ho nila," he said.
(They corrected their prices after they were apprehended.)
Lopez also said the DTI is finalizing its plan to provide loans and livelihood packages to survivors of the typhoon.