Gov’t task group to start watch on meat prices Feb. 8
MANILA – The government’s sub-task group on economic intelligence (Econ Intel) will begin its watch on prices of meat products on Feb. 8, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Thursday.
“Yung bagong task group mag-iikot next week (The new task group will begin surveillance next week),” DA’s Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI) chief Reildren Morales said in a virtual briefing.
Earlier President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved the creation of the new sub-task group on Wednesday to go after profiteers, price manipulators, hoarders, and smugglers.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in the initial phase of its creation, the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will go after unscrupulous traders and wholesalers who are allegedly responsible for the high prices of hogs and pork, hovering at more than PHP400 per kilogram (kg) that persisted even beyond last year’s Christmas season and despite reduced demand.
“Pork prices should have already gone down after the holidays, but they did not. Clearly, some persons along the food value chain are making a lot of money,” Dar said.
Before the holiday season, the average prices ranged from PHP270 per kg for pigue (pork leg) and kasim (pork shoulder) to PHP300/kg for liempo (pork belly).
It was the basis for the newly signed Executive Order 124 which mandates the price ceiling for the pork products.
The new EO, which will also be implemented on Monday, stipulated a price cap on dressed chicken at PHP160 per kg. It was imposed to maintain prices of chicken as consumers prefer it over the more expensive pork products.
DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez has sought the partnership and coordination of law enforcing agencies such as the Department of Justice (DOJ); Department of the Interior and Local Government; National Bureau of Investigation; Philippine National Police; Bureau of Customs; Philippine Competition Commission; National Security Council; and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.
Dar earlier said the PCC has been conducting its own investigation on the matter.
He said the penalty for price manipulation can go up to more than PHP100 million.
Meanwhile, the DOJ assured its full support to the task group.
In a statement, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he has “expressed to the DA and the DTI our willingness to participate in the proposed sub-task group on economic intelligence.”
“Pursuant to that manifestation, the DOJ will issue a department order directing the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) to gather actionable information that may be used to run after hoarders and profiteers reportedly manipulating the prices of pork, vegetables, and other basic food stuff,” he said. (with reports from Benjamin Pulta/PNA)