Joyce Ann Sabado, information officer of DTI Region 1, said overpricing of medical products like medicines, alcohol, sanitizers, medicines, N-95 masks, and other similar masks may be considered as an unfair and unconscionable sales act under Consumer Act or Republic Act (RA) No. 7394.
“Overpricing is against the law since it involves taking advantage of consumers in this time of need,” Sabado said.
She added that overpricing is also considered an act of profiteering under RA 7581 or Price Act.
Further, Sabado confirmed that that their office has been receiving reports regarding online stores and individuals hoarding and selling overpriced medical products.
These reports, she said, are valid because overpricing is considered an act of profiteering under RA 7581 or Price Act, and is disadvantageous to consumers.
“Under Price Act, hoarding and other illegal acts of price manipulation are punishable and subjected to a penalty of imprisonment for a period of not less than one year nor more than 10 years,” she said.
Also, violators may face a fine of not less than P5,000.00 to more than P1 million.
“The public is advised to be more vigilant and cautious when buying online. Refrain from patronizing overpriced products and report these sellers to the Department of Health (DOH) or DTI provincial office,” said Sabado.
Further, she reminded the public that a Prize Freeze is in effect following Proclamation 922 declaring a State of Public Health Emergency throughout the country due to COVID-19 outbreak.
“Prize Freeze means that all prices of basic necessities are frozen for 60 days effective March 8,” said Sabado, adding that emergency medicines and medical supplies are included.
Based on DOH Department Memorandum No. 2020- 0058, the price range of the following items are: N95 (P45.00 – P105.00); disposable face mask (P1.10 – P8.00); Ethyl Alcohol 70% Solution 60 mL (P17.25 – P25.50); Ethyl Alcohol 70% Solution 250 mL (P36.75 – P41.75); and Ethyl Alcohol 70% Solution 500 mL (P61.00 – P74.25), among others.
Meanwhile, Sabado assured the public that their Consumer Protection Division personnel have intensified their monitoring of prices and supply of basic necessities at major groceries and supermarkets in the region. (JCR/JND/PIA La Union)
By Joanne Namnama P. Dilim