THE prices of prime commodities in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) remain stable despite the ongoing Marawi City siege, the region’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said on Wednesday.
DTI-ARMM Secretary Anwar Malang dispelled reports that the prices of goods in Lanao del Sur had skyrocketed saying, “it is not true that a sack of rice now costs P5,000. On the contrary prices of basic commodities remain steady.”
“We are reminding our retailers to comply with the set price ceiling,” he added.
A price freeze on basic commodities was automatically enforced in Mindanao after President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on May 23 following clashes between government troops and Maute and Abu Sayyaf terror groups in Marawi.
Because of the recent crisis in Marawi, the department has deployed two special price monitoring teams to Lanao del Sur covering the municipalities of Buadipuso Buntong, Ditsaan-Ramain, Poona Bayabao, Tamparan, Malabang, Ganassi, Marantao and Watu Balindong.
Reports from the field, Malang said, indicate price increases of up to 10 percent in the municipalities of Marantao and Ditsaan-Ramain.
“The minimal increases in prices of basic goods in those areas are justifiable on account of transportation costs incurred in the hauling of goods from suppliers in Iligan City,” he pointed out.
Supply of basic commodities in Lanao del Sur comes from the cities of Iligan in Lanao del Norte; Cagayan de Oro in Misamis Oriental and Pagadian in Zamboanga del Sur.
Under Republic Act 7581, or the Price Act, price freeze on basic necessities shall be automatically implemented in areas under a state of calamity.
The measure covers basic goods including canned sardines, processed milk, bottled water, locally manufactured instant noodles, coffee, detergent soap, bread, candles, salt, rice, corn, cooking oil, fresh beef, fresh poultry, fresh and dried fish and other marine products, fresh egg, fresh milk, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, root crops and sugar.
Malang said his office is monitoring prices weekly not only in Lanao del Sur but in other ARMM provinces as well.
“We are intensifying the monitoring to check if business establishments are complying with the price freeze order,” Malang said.
Price control of basic necessities remains while martial law is in effect. Billboards on the price ceiling of basic goods, price freeze advisories, and other relevant information will be posted all over the region through the DTI-ARMM’s provincial offices.
Penalties for those found violating the price freeze include a fine ranging from P5,000 to P1,000,000 and/or imprisonment from one to 10 years.