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Solon: Include instant noodles, LPG goods protected vs price hikes

June 29, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 253 views

BICOL Saro Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan has proposed that liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), instant noodles, potable water in containers and kerosene be included in the list of basic necessities as defined under the law to protect consumers from unwarranted price increases of these goods, especially during times of calamities.

With Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. LRay Villafuerte, the Bicol Saro lawmaker filed House Bill (HB) No. 7977, which seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 7581 or the Price Act to include these four items in the list of basic necessities covered by the regular monitoring of the Price Coordinating Council (PCC).

“The Price Act is due for an update. The Act has not included ‘new’ goods that by virtue of their mass and necessary usage, qualify as basic necessities,” Yamsuan and Villafuerte said in their bill’s explanatory note.

HB 7977 also provides a mechanism for greater flexibility in including or excluding types and brands of goods in the list of basic necessities or prime commodities.

Enacted into law in 1992, the Price Act ensures fair pricing and availability of basic necessities and prime commodities, especially during times of calamities and emergencies. This law also outlines the responsibilities of government agencies in monitoring prices and ensures a just return on investment for legitimate businesses.

Under the Price Act, the inclusion or exclusion of goods in the list of basic necessities and prime commodities can be done upon the petition of concerned parties. HB 7977 amends this provision by also allowing the inclusion or exclusion of goods through motu proprio action of the concerned agencies of the PCC.

The secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) chairs the PCC, which also includes as members the secretaries of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Justice (DOJ); the Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA); and one representative each form the sector of consumers, agricultural producers, trading, and manufacturers.

In Section 3 of the Price Act, the list of basic necessities include rice; corn; bread; fresh, dried and canned fish and marine products; fresh pork, beef, and poultry meat; fresh eggs; fresh and processed milk; fresh vegetables; root crops; coffee; sugar; cooking oil; laundry soap; detergents; firewood; charcoal; candles; and drugs classified as essential by the DOH.

This Section will be amended through the bill to include LPG, kerosene, noodles and potable water in containers.

Under the Price Act, prices of basic necessities are automatically frozen at their prevailing prices in places declared as disaster areas or under a state of calamity. Automatic price control for basic necessities also takes place in areas declared under a state of emergency, martial law, state of rebellion, state of war, or where the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended.

Hoarding, profiteering, forming cartels, and other acts meant to manipulate prices of basic necessities and prime commodities are illegal and penalized under the Price Act.