The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is in close talks with manufacturers and distributors of basic goods to increase their inventory of goods in Mindanao.
In a press briefing Tuesday, Consumer Protection and Advocacy Bureau (CPAB) Officer-in-Charge Lilian Salonga said the DTI had installed an alert system on supply of goods in Mindanao in order to ensure that supply of basic commodities would be adequate.
Salonga said the alert system on supply of goods was in collaboration with various manufacturers.
These include manufacturers of instant noodles, canned goods, bread, and milk as well as meat processors.
She cited the commitment of distributors and suppliers to load more than the usual two-week stock of goods.
“They ensure that between three to four weeks [worth of inventory], so that there’s enough buffer supply and inventories,” she said.
DTI Undersecretary for Consumer Protection Group Teodoro Pascua noted that big manufacturers had one month to one and half months worth of inventories in Cagayan de Oro, which is the gateway of goods going to Iligan City, Marawi City and other parts of Lanao del Norte as well as Misamis Occidental and Caraga Region.
“Supplies of goods are adequate. And if there’s a need for more supplies, manufacturers can source it to other points — from Mindanao and Visayas,” Pascua said.
DTI officials including Secretary Ramon Lopez and Pascua immediately went to Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City on Monday after reports during the weekend that rice prices in the area and Marawi City jacked up by 100 percent to around Php 5,000 to Php 6,000 per 50-kilogram sack.
Pascua said there were no retailers selling in that price range in main markets of Iligan City. But some sari-sari stores in Baloy, at the boundary of Iligan City and Marawi City, were seen to sell commercial, premium, and “fancy rice” at the said price level.
He noted that the price freeze only covers basic commodities, and commercial rice is not covered by this.
“This is not NFA rice. These is commercial, premium, fancy rice selling at Php 5,000 per [50-kilogram] sack,” the official said.
Pascua mentioned that the increase in prices of commercial rice in some stores in Baloy was mainly due to the logistics constraints brought by the conflict in Marawi City.
The fastest way of delivering rice going to Baloy is through Marawi City, but due to the clashes between troops and terrorist group, distributors have to go longer routes which adds to the logistics cost and increases the price of the commodity, Pascua explained.
He added that Baloy was a Maranao area, in which large percentage of population were Muslims and preferred commercial rice than NFA rice.
“So, it’s about supply and demand. You have limited supply because of the logistics constraints and you have demands since they prefer the commercial rice,” Pascua said.
In a text message to reporters, Lopez said retailers, distributors, and manufacturers were not concerned with the martial law in Mindanao. Instead, the declaration made them to feel safe and secure amid the conflict in Marawi City.
“Only slight issue cited is more traveling time for deliveries due to checkpoints, but they understand the importance and willing to cooperate, and they just adjust delivery time. [They are in] full support to government efforts,” the DTI chief added.