The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) - Cebu remains vigilant in enforcing the price-ceiling regulations on basic commodities under the ongoing 60-day price-freeze initiative, following the directive issued by Governor Gwendolyn Garcia on May 23, 2024, declaring a state of calamity in the entire province of Cebu due to devastating impact of El Niño.

Despite the official declaration of the end of the El Niño phenomenon of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) last June 7, 2024, DTI-Cebu's Consumer Protection Division Chief Ines J. Cajegas emphasized the continued strict monitoring of prices as mandated by EO No. 9 series of 2024 due to the serious repercussions of El Niño.

Cajegas said DTI strictly enforces price monitoring most importantly when there is a declaration of [a] state of calamity or a state of emergency, such as the state of emergency declared during the pandemic.

Businesses found violating the price freeze regulations may face fines of up to P1 million or imprisonment for a maximum of 10 years.

Cajegas said several business establishments have faced penalties for exceeding the price ceiling in previous instances, with a notable case emerging in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette in December 2021. DTI took action against 12 establishments during this period, issuing fines for non-compliance. The highest penalty imposed reached P10,000, underscoring the government's commitment to upholding price regulations and protecting consumer interests.

Among the companies compliant with the 60-day price freeze are San Miguel Food, Alaska Milk Corporation, Monde Nissin, Nestlé, and NutriAsia, Inc.

Additionally, several popular products such as Lucky Me! Instant Mami, Liberty Condensada, Alaska Classic Sweetened Condensed Milk, and others have been included in the price freeze orders across 31 stock-keeping units (SKUs).

Specific price adjustments under the price freeze include Toyo Regular Lid 155g priced at P20.50, Bear Brand 150g at P54.75, Nescafe (Classic) 23g at P20, Lucky Me! Instant Mami variants at P9.50, and Summit 1L at P22.50.

Comparatively, the Suggested Retail Prices before implementing the price freeze as of January 12 are the following: Toyo Regular Lid 155g at P18.72, Bear Brand 135g at P50, Nescafe (Classic) 23g at P20, Lucky Me! Instant Mami variants at P8.75, and Summit 1L at P22.50.

DTI's selection of essential goods and pricing under the price freeze is based on market demand and prevailing prices to ensure consumer affordability and accessibility.

Looking ahead, DTI-Cebu is closely monitoring the potential impacts of La Niña, with plans to implement further price freeze measures if conditions worsen and mirror the effects experienced during the El Niño period.

Cajegas noted the possibility of additional price freeze directives depending on the severity and duration of La Niña's impact, emphasizing the need for proactive monitoring and response strategies to safeguard consumer interests in dynamic market conditions.

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