The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI-6) has released a price freeze list of basic necessities for local government units (LGUs) that have declared a state of calamity due to El Nino and a pertussis outbreak.

From March 13 to May 1, 2024, 31 LGUs in Western Visayas declared a state of calamity due to El Nino. In Antique, the entire province and its 18 municipalities were affected. Buenavista and San Lorenzo in the Province of Guimaras also declared a state of calamity. In Negros Occidental, San Enrique, Kabankalan City, and Valladolid were affected. In Iloilo, the affected LGUs were Sara, Estancia, Barotac Viejo, Bingawan, Passi City, Balasan, and Dingle, with Iloilo City specifically declaring due to a pertussis outbreak.

The automatic price freeze in the following LGUs will take effect on the following dates this CY 2024, unless sooner lifted by the President: Sibalom, Antique (March 13-May 12); Iloilo City (March 26-May 25); Buenavista, Guimaras (March 25-May 24); Anini-y, Antique (March 26-May 25); San Enrique, Negros Occidental (April 8-June 7); Laua-an, Antique (April 12-June 11); Sara, Iloilo (April 12-June 11); Estancia, Iloilo (April 15-June 14); San Remigio, Antique (April 16-June 15); Tobias Fornier, Antique (April 17-June 16); San Lorenzo, Guimaras (April 17-June 16); Whole Province of Antique with 18 LGUs (April 18-June 17); Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental (April 18-June 17); Barotac Viejo, Iloilo (April 24-June 23); Bingawan, Iloilo (April 24-June 23); City of Passi, Iloilo (April 25-June 24); Balasan, Iloilo (April 25-June 24); Dingle, Iloilo (April 30-June 29); Valladolid, Negros Occidental (May 1-June 30, 2024).

Under Republic Act No. 7581, the Price Act, prices of basic necessities are automatically frozen at their prevailing rates for 60 days when an area is under a state of emergency. This measure aims to protect consumers from undue price increases during emergencies.

DTI-6 will regularly monitor supermarkets and grocery stores for compliance with the price freeze on basic necessities such as canned fish, processed milk, coffee, detergent, laundry soap, bread, instant noodles, salt, bottled water, and candles.

“The DTI Provincial Offices and the Consumer Protection Division are working closely with LGUs to monitor the implementation of the price freeze, ensuring consumer protection,” said DTI-6 OIC-Regional Director Rachel Nufable.

Based on the Price Act, business establishments found to have violated the price freeze will face a penalty of imprisonment for a period of one year to ten years, or a fine as may be determined.

The public is urged to report any instances of price manipulation or violations to the DTI or local authorities. Violations of the price control measures will be met with enforcement actions.DTI-6/PR