As the Christmas season draws near, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles assured the public that the government is undertaking measures to ensure that the prices of basic commodities will not spike as the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a Facebook Live video Saturday, Nograles said the government has continuing measures to prevent increases in the prices of basic commodities.
He added that the government recognizes the need to continuously monitor the prices of basic goods, particularly food items.
“Actually ang DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) naman hindi lang sa pagkain kung hindi pati sa iba’t-ibang essential items, goods. Nagmo-monitor naman ang DTI (The DTI is monitoring the prices of not just food, but all products),” he said.
“During public calamity and public crisis tulad ng meron sa atin ngayon, puwede namang maglagay ng mga price controls kung kinakailangan. Puwede namang i-operationalize ‘yan tulad ng nangyari noong kaka-start ng COVID dito sa atin (like the one we have right now, we can impose a price control if necessary. We can do that like what we did when the pandemic hit us),” he added.
According to Nograles, the government has lifted the price freeze on goods but the DTI and the Department of Agriculture continue to monitor the prices of goods.
“Prices were initially ordered frozen at the onset of the pandemic, but even with price controls lifted, the government continues to be conscious of the need to keep an eye on the prices of goods in the market,” he said.
“We want to prevent price manipulation, make sure there is no hoarding, to avoid situations wherein unscrupulous individuals can take advantage of artificial shortages of goods,” he added.
Nograles, chairman of the government’s Zero Hunger Task Force (ZHTF), said that aside from monitoring the prices of food staples like rice, the government was also taking steps to improve food production to ensure adequate food supplies during the holidays.
“Making sure that food production is uninterrupted and supply chains are unimpeded are among our priorities to ensure adequate supplies and access to the market,” he said.
“If these measures are in place, we can prevent price fluctuations that can hurt Filipino consumers,” he added.
The Palace official cited the DA’s e-Kadiwa program, a digital platform system that brings safe, healthy, and fresh farm produce direct from merchants to consumers in Metro Manila.
He also noted the DELIVER-e, a program of the DA and DTI that aims to help Filipino farmers transport their produce to key markets.
DELIVER-e, a USAID-supported initiative, is a digital platform that connects Luzon farmers to buyers through an innovative, end-to-end electronic market system that addresses supply chain gaps as a result of quarantine restrictions in the country.
According to the USAID website, since the program’s launch in early April, DELIVER-e has enabled sales of more than 156,000 kilograms of fresh fruits and vegetables through its first two e-marketplaces, Gulay ng Bayan and City Farms Philippines, and facilitated the movement of fresh produce to institutional and individual buyers in Metro Manila.
USAID worked closely with the DA, DTI, and the private sector, led by Philippine logistics technology startup Insight Supply Chain Solutions, to establish DELIVER-e.