Public urged anew to keep calm, avoid panic buying amid virus fears

Robie de Guzman   •   March 12, 2020   •   557

MANILA, Philippines – The government appealed to the public anew to remain calm and refrain from panic buying amid the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) made the statement following reports of panic buying in some stores in Metro Manila over concerns of a possible lockdown due to growing coronavirus infections in the region.

The DTI assured the country has enough supplies of basic goods, and hoarding would only increase the prices of necessities.

“Kung sakaling magla-lockdown ang Metro Manila, we have sufficient supply. Maraming commissaries and warehouse ng manufacturers natin ang nandito and retailers,” Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said on Thursday.

Authorities also reiterated that a lockdown in the metropolis is not yet implemented amid the surge in COVID-19 cases.

The Philippines has so far recorded 49 confirmed cases with two fatalities.

The jump in coronavirus infections in the last few days has spurred many consumers to head to grocery stores and buy some products in bulk, such as bottles of alcohol, sanitizers, liquid soap and tissues, as well as food items like rice and canned goods.

To curb fear-based hoarding, the DTI said it has asked supermarket operators to limit the number of health products customers can buy so that more people may purchase these goods to protect themselves against the virus.

The DTI said each consumer should only be allowed to buy two bottles of alcohol and other hygiene products to avoid shortages in the market.

“Unless ipaligo mo yung alcohol, hindi mo kailangan ng sampung bote. Kung ikaw lang or a family of 5 dahil sa kamay lang naman ginagamit,” Castelo said.

Malacañang has earlier made a similar appeal, and urged the public to “buy only what they need” as panic-buying would only result in “undue hoarding and price increases.”

The DTI official also reminded traders that a price freeze is being implemented nationwide following the declaration of a state of public health emergency by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Castelo said prices of basic necessities shall be frozen at their prevailing prices for 60 days unless lifted by the president.

Among the basic goods covered by the price freeze are canned fish and other marine products, locally manufactured instant noodles, bottled water, processed milk, coffee, candles, laundry soap, detergent, and salt.

Also covered in the price freeze are agricultural products such as rice, corn, cooking oil, fresh, dried and other marine products, fresh eggs, fresh pork, beef and poultry meat, fresh milk, fresh vegetables, root crops, sugar and fresh fruits.

Basic goods like essential drugs, firewood and charcoal, household liquefied petroleum gas and kerosene are also covered by the price freeze.

The DTI warns to slap charges against establishments found to have violated the price freeze.

“Pwede sigurong ibaba ng retailer kung sa tingin nila pwedeng mabawasan yung profit nila pero hindi nila pwedeng itaas (ang presyo),” Castelo said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Victor Cosare)

DTI, nanawagan sa LGUs at mall operators na pag-aralan ang ipinaiiral na ‘no return, no exchange’ policy

Robie de Guzman   •   May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Nanawagan ang Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) sa mga lokal na pamahalaan at mall operators sa Metro Manila na muling pag-aralan ang ipinatutupad na “no return, no exchange” policy sa ibinibentang mga produkto.

Ginawa ng DTI ang pahayag ngayong Huwebes matapos matuklasan na may mga mall sa Quezon City na nagpapatupad ng ganitong polisiya lalo na sa mga ibinibentang damit at sapatos sa gitna ng novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

Ipinagbabawal rin sa ngayon sa ilang mall ang fitting o pagsusukat ng mga nasabing item.

“Kasi doon sa no fitting policy nila tapos no return, no exchange, it turns off the consumer. Mas lalong hindi bibili yung tao na pupunta doon dahil nga kung hindi kasya ano gagawin nila dun sa bibilhin nila,” ang sabi ni DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo.

Paliwanag naman ng ilang mall officials, sumusunod lamang sila sa guidelines ng lokal na pamahalaan sa gitna ng COVID-19 pandemic.

“We inform them before that no fitting is allowed and there is no return, no exchange,” ayon kay Luisito Lim, general manager ng Landmark.

“Sa ngayon kasi yun yung that was imposed to us by the Quezon City government so we are just following the guidelines,” dagdag niya.

Ngunit giit ni Castelo, maaaring magdulot ito ng kalituhan sa mga mamimili dahil ipinagbabawal sa ilalim ng Republic Act 7394 o ang Consumer Act of the Philippines ang ganitong polisiya.

Sang-ayon sa batas, may karapatan ang isang customer na isauli ang nabiling produkto lalo na kapag ito ay depektibo.

Payo ng ahensiya, magpulong ang mga lokal na pamahalaan, mall operators at ang Department of the Interior and Local Government upang ayusin ang nasabing panuntunan.

Iminungkahi rin ng DTI ang pagkakaroon ng uniformed protocols na ipatutupad sa mga mall upang maiwasan ang kalituhan sa publiko. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Dante Amento)

Metro Manila to likely transition to GCQ after May 31 —Palace

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2020

Metro Manila has a possibility to transition to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) from Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) after May 31, according to the Malacañang.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there is a chance that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions might ease in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) held a meeting on Wednesday (May 27) to determine if the MECQ should continue after May 31.

“Chances are we will, in fact, be transitioning to GCQ in Metro Manila, according to the chief implementer and the DILG [Department of the Interior and Local Government] Secretary,” Roque said in a statement.

The Metro Manila Council (MMC) is also recommending to the IATF to put the National Capital Region under GCQ.

Once Metro Manila transitioned to GCQ, Roque said public transportation will resume operations but will have limited capacity.

He also appealed to the private and public sectors to finalize their work scheme where 50% will resume in worksites and 50% will work from home.

“We are appealing to both private and public sectors to ensure at least 50-50 workforce,” he said. –AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Mandaluyong City beefs up rapid testing after COVID-19 infects 277 tricycle drivers

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Mandaluyong City government cannot decide yet on whether or not to allow tricycle drivers to operate come June 1.

This, after 277 of the 3,115 tricycle drivers who underwent rapid testing were confirmed positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Mandaluyong City Health Office is continuously conducting rapid tests among 7,000 tricycle drivers in the city to ensure their safety and the safety of their passengers.

Those who were infected are now under isolation in the city’s quarantine facility while waiting for the confirmatory tests using the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

“Nagko contact tracing pa ho kami kasi scattered po ito eh. Hindi po ito kasi by area. So mina-map out pa po namin kung saan sila marami (We are doing contact tracing because these are scattered. It is not just in one area. So we are mapping out where the most number of cases are),” said Dr. Alexander Sta, Maria of the city health office.

The LGU, meanwhile, clarified that the increase in the number of confirmed cases in the city is a result of the mass testing which allowed for the immediate tracking of COVID-19 probable patients and their prompt isolation to curb further spread.

“This is coordinated kasi meron po tayong in-charge sa buong TODA. Then before po ito ni-launch, na-meeting po ang lahat ng presidente ng kanilang mga TODA so binigyan po sila ng schedule (This is a coordinated effort. There is someone in charge of the whole TODA. Before this was launched, we held a meeting with their respective presidents and all of them were given a schedule),” Sta. Maria added.

The city government will test jeepney drivers next once the tests among tricycle drivers is completed. MNP (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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