Solon warns vs. overpricing of face masks amid Taal ashfall

A party-list lawmaker on Monday warned businesses against overpricing face masks in Metro Manila due to the ashfall from Taal volcano.

ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. NiAa Taduran said retailers should not take advantage of the current situation by overcharging consumers as they rush to buy masks and other supplies to protect themselves from the dangers of the Taal Volcano eruption.

Taduran cited a provision of the Philippine Consumer Act, which prohibits sellers from exploiting buyers based on "physical or mental infirmity, ignorance, illiteracy, lack of time or the general conditions of the environment or surroundings."

It has come to my attention that certain stores have been charging PHP200 and up for each N95 mask, and there are several individuals who are raking in immense profit after hoarding the masks and selling them online, she said.

They face a penalty of PHP10,000 fine or imprisonment of up to one year or both under the Consumer Law, she added.

The lawmaker also called on all water concessionaires to provide uninterrupted water to communities affected by the ashfall.

Communities in Metro Manila and Calabarzon have been experiencing regular water interruptions since summer. It is essential that safe drinking water is available and also to clean up the ash as soon as possible as this poses a health hazard and could cause even more problems if left unattended, she said.

She noted that her party-list would visit the evacuation centers in Batangas and deliver free masks and other relief goods to the victims of the eruption.

In an advisory on Sunday evening, the Department of Health said the effects of the ashfall range from irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, coughing, bronchitis-like illness, discomfort while breathing, skin irritation, and minor skin problems.

Aside from such health risks, the DOH said ashfall may also result in accidents such as collapsed roofs or vehicular crashes brought by slippery roads.

To mitigate these health risks and accidents, the public is advised to avoid going out of their homes and to close all windows and doors, hang damp curtains on windows and doors to avoid the entry of ash, use a dust mask or a cover for nose and mouth, use eye protection such as goggles, place pets and other animals in safe locations, clean fallen ash from the roof to avoid collapse, be updated on the latest situation before traveling, and to obey all traffic laws.

Source: Philippines News Agency