DA sets price caps for 8 food items in Metro Manila

MANILA The Department of Agriculture (DA) has set limits to retail prices of eight agricultural commodities sold in Metro Manila, warning sellers face sanctions for charging customers more than what's allowed.

At the 120th anniversary celebration of the DA on Friday, agriculture chief Emmanuel PiAol signed the administrative circular setting suggested retail prices (SRPs) for regular milled rice (PHP39/kilo), medium to big milkfish of two to five pieces per kilo (PHP150/kilo), medium-sized tilapia of six pieces per kilo (PHP100/kilo), medium galunggong of 11 to 20 pieces per kilo (PHP140/kilo), red onion (PHP95/kilo), white onion (PHP75/kilo), imported variety garlic (PHP70/kilo), and local variety garlic (PHP120/kilo).

The DA administrative circular is effective immediately after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.

"Selling prices of such commodities must not exceed 10 percent of the SRPs or violators will be charged with profiteering," PiAol said at the event.

He said a profiteer faces imprisonment and fine of up to around a million pesos.

Both the Trade and the Interior departments will help monitor and implement the SRPs, he said.

However, he clarified that SRPs specified in the circular might change from time to time depending on the situation.

If prices of farm inputs for commodities increase, for example, he said the government would consider this in evaluating the validity of prevailing SRPs.

This, he said, aims to ensure the availability of affordable food without jeopardizing the farmers' earning potential.

The government passed RA 7581 (Price Act of 1992) to ensure the availability of reasonably priced basic and prime commodities at all times, the administrative circular noted.

PiAol reiterated the need for SRPs to curb a possible surge in commodity prices.

"SRP is a commodity's base price. Without this, there's no means of controlling prices," PiAol noted.

The shortage of government-subsidized National Food Authority rice in the market had already triggered a surge in prices of commercial rice.

Market players also cited the implementation of RA 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law as fueling commodity price hikes in the country.

The government consulted with public and private stakeholders concerned before setting the SRPs, PiAol said.

"The SRPs we set aren't mere products of the imagination," he stressed. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency