By Rita dela Cruz, DA Communications Group
Agriculture Secretary William Dar directed the regional chiefs of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to work closely with the Local Price Coordinating Councils (LPCCs) in monitoring supply and prices of basic food items and strictly enforce the suggested retail price (SRP) and ‘price freeze’ policies in their respective localities.
“We got the much-needed muscle when the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved during our April 6 teleconference our recommendation to immediately activate the LPCCs nationwide with the guidance of the Department of Interior and Local Government to strictly monitor food prices and enforce the SRP and price freeze for basic necessities and prime commodities,” Secretary Dar said.
“Thus, we instructed all our DA regional executive directors (REDs) to meet with the respective provincial, city and municipal price coordinating councils and discuss collaborative tasks that include regular monitoring of food supply and prices in public markets and conduct of investigations on SRP and price freeze violations,” the DA chief added.
He also asked the DA-REDs to prepare a report with analysis on the causes of price adjustments, and suggest steps to correct unwarranted price spikes and supply disruptions—that form part of ensuring food availability and affordability during the enhanced community quarantine due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are in an abnormal situation, where our national food security is threatened, and thus, it is a national issue,” Dar said.
“As President Duterte recently said: ‘Hindi ito panahon para kumita. Hindi ito panahon ng pagsasamantala.‘ Hence, we need to ensure that strict implementation of measures to curtail hoarding and profiteering is in place,” the DA chief said.
The DA also strengthened its Bantay Presyo Task Force (BPTF), which is composed of three teams: price monitoring, enforcement, and adjudication.
It is tasked to monitor prices of basic food commodities, enforce the SRP and prize freeze policies, and apprehend and file cases against violators, including hoarders and cartels.
The price freeze policy is contained under a joint memorandum circular forged by the DA and the departments of trade and industry (DTI), and health (DOH). It covers all persons, including those who sell through the internet or other media. It sets a price ceiling for basic commodities “should the existence or effects of COVID-19 continue to persist beyond the 60-day period.