With the onset of the rainy season, the Department of Trade and Industry – Consumer Protection Group (DTI-CPG) through the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) and the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Quezon City checked the supply and prices of basic necessities and prime commodities (BNPC) in Quezon City, 26 May 2023.CPG Undersecretary Atty. Ruth B. Castelo, Quezon City Vice Mayor Gian Carlo G. Sotto, and FTEB Director Atty. Fhillip D. Sawali led the DTI price monitoring teams in verifying retail firms’ compliance with the latest DTI Suggested Retail Price (SRP) bulletin released on 08 February 2023.
The Quezon City LGU expressed their support for the said price monitoring initiative, as the head of the city's Local Price Coordinating Council (LPCC). The LPCC is mandated to coordinate programs with the concerned government agencies to stabilize prices and supply of BNPCs and to undertake measures during emergencies, particularly calamities, or state of emergencies.
Through this tight price watch, the monitoring teams affirmed the compliance with the latest SRP of the three (3) supermarkets inspected in Quezon City, as well as the requirement of appropriate price tags on products.
The monitored firms carried an average of 44 Stock Keeping Units (SKUs), 23 of which were priced within the SRP level while 21 were priced even lower than the SRP in the latest bulletin.
The ramped-up enforcement resulted in the sealing of a unit of child restraint systems, motor vehicle brake fluids, electric fans, electric food mixers, blenders, and fuse holders worth Php110,334.00.
Out of the 12 inspected firms, four (4) were issued with a Notice of Violation. As part of due process, the erring firms were given 48 hours to submit an explanation related to the findings of noncompliance.
The nationwide campaign of DTI against uncertified items in the market highlights its effort of ensuring quality and safe products in accordance with the Philippine Standard Certification Mark Schemes and its technical regulations, particularly Department Administrative Order No. 02, Series of 2007.
To protect consumers or potential buyers of electrical and electronic products; mechanical or building and construction materials; and chemical and other consumer products and systems, the DTI- Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS) regulates products and systems through implementing Mandatory Product Certification Schemes: the Philippine Standard (PS) Quality and/or Safety Certification Mark Licensing Scheme and the Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) Certification Scheme.
In addition, the teams inspected eight (8) vape shops selling vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products, and novel tobacco products to ensure their compliance with the requirements of RA 11900 and its IRR. Five (5) non-conforming shops were issued a Notice of Violation (NOV), requiring each of them to submit a written explanation within 48 hours from receipt thereof. The inspection resulted in the sealing of 142 units worth Php43,390.00.
The common violation of vape shops are: (1) No signage to inform consumers against the use of children and non-smokers; (2) Selling vape products that target children, through flavors or cartoon characters; (3) Selling vape products in locations frequented by children, such as schools and playgrounds; (4) No age confirmation process against children's interests; and (5) Vape product ads that target children and non-smokers.
RA 11900 lapsed into law on July 25, 2022. Consequently, the IRR was issued on 05 December 2022, published in Philippine Star and Pilipino Star Ngayon on 13 December 2022, and took effect on 28 December 2022, 15 days after publication.
It covers vapor products/refills, vapor product devices, heated tobacco products (HTP)s, HTP consumables and devices, as well as novel tobacco products.
The DTI urges consumers to report violators through the Consumer Care Hotline at DTI (1-384) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SKUs priced below the latest SRP bulletin recorded a price difference that ranges from Php0.13 to Php7.00.
The price monitoring initiative demonstrates the Quezon City LGU’s close coordination with the DTI to ensure reasonableness of prices and availability of supply of basic necessities and prime commodities, especially in cases of emergency.
Quezon City Vice Mayor Sotto assures the public that the city has a stable supply of basic needs to sustain emergencies such as typhoons or heavy rains.
Meanwhile, USec. Atty. Castelo emphasized that the DTI is always ready to implement a price freeze upon a declaration of a state of calamity.
“The DTI is ready to freeze prices based on the prevailing price data gathered by the monitoring teams in their regular monitoring of price and supply of basic necessities and prime commodities,” Usec. Atty. Castelo said.
She also urged manufacturers to ensure adequate supply in areas prone to hazards.
Likewise, FTEB Director Sawali expressed the price monitoring teams’ commitment to protecting consumers from unreasonable price increases more so during emergencies and similar circumstances.
Republic Act No. 7581, as amended by R.A. 10623, or the Price Act provides the DTI and other implementing agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Department of Energy the mandate of ensuring the availability of BNPCs at reasonable prices at all times without denying legitimate businesses a fair return on investment.
The DTI releases the SRP bulletin to guide consumers in making informed purchasing decisions.
Section 6 of the Price Act states that prices in an area or under a state of calamity or under an emergency shall be automatically frozen at their prevailing prices for a period of 60 days unless sooner lifted by the President.
Apart from checking the prices and supply of basic necessities and prime commodities (BNPC), the team inspects compliance of products with technical regulations as well as vape regulations.