The Department of Agriculture (DA), following the declaration of a nationwide state of calamity due to the spike of Covid-19 cases, is considering an expanded list of suggested retail price (SRP) of agricultural products, Secretary William D. Dar said on Thursday.

Presently, the retail prices of basic goods in the markets of Metro Manila are:
Pork (pigue/kasim), P190; Chicken (whole, dressed), P130; Sugar (raw, brown), P45; Sugar (refined), P50; Bangus (cage-cultured), P162; Tilapia (pond-cultured), P120; Galunggong (imported), P130; Garlic (fresh, imported), P70; Garlic (fresh, local), P120; Red onion (fresh, imported) , P95.

For now, Dar said that the agriculture department will continue to enhance the implementation of the current SRP scheme for agriculture and fishery commodities in line with the announcement of price freeze on basic commodities due to COVID-19 calamity.

Secretary Dar said that they are still firming up recommendations for expanded SRP, which will be discussed with the National Price Coordinating Council “in due time”. If approved, the DA chief said that they may include more agriculture products to the list and expand their monitoring activities outside of Metro Manila. “We want to ensure that essential goods would remain affordable for more people,” he said.

“The rationale in expanding the SRP is the actual situation in the market,” Secretary Dar said, noting that the agency has been reviewing price data for the past three months. Under Republic Act 7581, or the Price Act, the DA has the power to implement a suggested retail price anytime “for the information and guidance of producers, manufacturers, traders, dealers, sellers, retailers and consumers.”

Under the Joint Memorandum Circular of the DA, Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Health, the price freeze covers all persons, including those who sell through the internet or other media. In the memorandum, implementing agencies can also recommend a price ceiling for basic commodities “should the existence or effects of COVID-19 continue to persist beyond the 60-day period.”

The agencies warned that any person or entity found violating the Price Act will be fined between P5,000 and P2 million and face imprisonment between five and 15 years. Secretary Dar also appealed to the public to report all major concerns, including profiteering, problems at checkpoints and queries about the SRP. They may call the hotlines 09511-443233 / 0921-7488537 / 0949-7523638. (DA-OSEC)