The departments of agriculture (DA), trade and industry (DTI), and health (DOH) forged an agreement to reactivate the Local Price Coordination Councils (LPCCs) to closely monitor the prices of farm and fishery products, processed goods, and medicines sold in Metro Manila and other urban centers nationwide.

In their recent joint Memorandum Circular No. 77, the three agencies agreed to allow the LPCCs of respective local government units to also help implement the suggested retail price (SRP) scheme, issue warnings, and apprehend offenders, including those who sell through the internet and social media.

“The reactivation of LPCCs was one of the measures approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) to monitor and forestall the excessive and unreasonable price spikes of agri-fishery commodities, processed products and medicines,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

“Our aim is to protect consumers against undue price spikes as the nation is under a state of emergency due to the spread of the novel corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19),” the Agri chief added.

“The joint memorandum is also in compliance with R.A. No. 7581, or the Price Act, that protects consumers by stabilizing the prices of basic necessities and prime commodities, and by prescribing measures against undue price increases during emergency situations, natural occurrences or man-made disasters,” he said.

Any person or entity found violating the Price Act will be fined between P5,000 and P2 million and face imprisonment between five and 15 years.

“Meanwhile, we are pleased to report that the average retail prices of imported and local rice are slightly decreasing, including prices of selected agri-fishery commodities in Metro Manila, from March 9 to 21, 2020,” Dar said.

He added that the average retail price of imported rice ranges from P41/kilo (well milled) and P39/kilo (regular milled), while the average retail price of local commercial rice ranges from P40/kilo (well-milled) to P31/kilo (regular milled).

“This week, we expect prices to start settling at reasonable and affordable levels as the transport of food and other cargoes, including the movement of farmers, fishers, food logistics providers, and food processing workers begin to improve, with the cooperation of the PNP and AFP, particularly barangay officials manning the enhanced community quarantine checkpoints,” secretary Dar concluded.

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