"Opportunistic" traders who unreasonably jack up prices of pork and other basic food items could be penalized if found guilty, the Department of Agriculture warned Tuesday as household budgets struggle to keep up with the rising prices of food staples.
A government task force is now monitoring the prices and supply of basic food items, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said as he claimed that traders and wholesalers were profiteering--making as much as P200 per kilo of pork.
"We admit that we have a limited population of hogs in Central Luzon due to the African Swine Fever or ASF since the early part of 2019, but traders and wholesalers are causing the spike in the prices of pork," Dar said.
"They are making a large profit margin of more than P200 per kilo, between the farm gate price of live hogs and the retail price of pork in public markets. Talagang sobra ang kita nila,” he said.
Consumers have complained of rising prices of goods with a kilo of pork costing as much as P400 in the market this month. The price hike has prompted a senator to seek an inquiry into the soaring prices of commodities.
Dar said the agriculture department has recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte to impose a price freeze on certain pork items such as P270/kg for kasim and pigue, P300/kg for liempo, and P160/kg for chicken meat to help consumers. The President has yet to decide on the matter.
Traders who will be caught jacking up prices of food items can be penalized with a fine of up to P100 million according to Dar.
The agriculture department has also sought the help of several government agencies such as the Department of Justice, National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine Competition Commission to help catch traders manipulating the prices of goods.
Below are the suggested retail prices for different food staples according to the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry: