BAGUIO CITY – Health authorities uncovered that some seventy two (72) establishments in the Cordillera allegedly violated the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 7581 or the Price Act after they were found to have overpriced the sale of masks and essential medicines in the light of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) scare.
DOH-CAR Legal Officer Atty. Veronica Zandra de Jesus-Sowaken disclosed that a total of 214 drug stores and groceries in the 6 provinces and 2 cities of the region were monitored for their compliance to the Price Act in the sale of makes, ethyl alcohol and essential medicines and 72 were found to have overpriced the sale of the said products.
Of the 214 monitored drug stores and groceries in the region, Benguet had the highest with 58 followed by Abra and Ifugao with 24 each, Mountain Province and Kalinga had 19 establishments each, Baguio City – 10 establishments and Apayao – 8 establishments.
On the other hand, Mountain Province had the highest number of establishments that were found to have violated the Price Act with 19 followed by Benguet and Ifugao with 14 establishments each, Kalinga – 8 establishments, Abra – 7 establishments, Baguio City – 6 establishments and Apayao – 5 establishments.
The DOH-CAR said the violators were issued the appropriate notices of violation with owners given 5 days upon receipt of such notice to answer after which the concerned health officials will ascertain whether or not to impose the penalties of fine and imprisonment that will go up to 5 years against them.
Sowaken claimed the aforesaid establishments were found to have overpriced their supply of face masks, ethyl alcohol and essential medicines in violation of the provisions of the Price Act, thus, the owners must explain why they should not be meted the appropriate penalties for taking advantage of the situation.
According to her, concerned health authorities continue to monitor the compliance of establishments in the region to the law in the sale of face masks, ethyl alcohol and essential medicines that have become basic commodities in the light of the COVID-19 scare.
The Legal Officer claimed that because of the different locations of the erring establishments, the agency already sent the notices of violation through registered mail and that the date of reckoning of the 5-day period to reply will be based on the date that the same was received and it will now be up to the owners to manage the submission of their reply to the agency for further investigation and appreciation.
The conduct of monitoring on erring establishments in the region was prompted by the reported artificial shortage of the supply of ordinary and N95 masks and ethyl alcohol due to alleged panic buying among the people on the COVID scare.
Sowaken urged the public to report to the health authorities erring establishments in their communities that continue to violate the Price Act by selling and disposing overpriced ordinary and N95 masks, ethyl alcohol and essential medicines, as well as other basic prime commodities, so that the same will be dealt with accordingly to prevent them from taking advantage of the prevailing panic mode of the public on the COVID scare.