By Aaron Recuenco
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has sent out uniformed personnel to assist in ensuring a price freeze on basic commodities amid the massive flooding that hit Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon.
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said he had already ordered the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and intelligence units to coordinate with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in enforcing the prize freeze of goods in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and other flooded areas.
“This is to prevent profiteering, hoarding and illegal acts of price manipulation. This augurs well with ongoing PNP efforts in support of the national policy on food security and consumer protection,” said Albayalde.
“I have directed our unit commanders in these calamity areas to take the initiative in coordinating with local DTI offices to ensure we effectively protect the interests of the general public,” he added.
Albayalde said they will specifically enforce Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act of 1992 which provides a minimum 60-day price freeze on basic and essential commodities or automatic price control upon the declaration of a state of calamity.
Some of the affected areas have either declared or are contemplating on declaring a state of calamity following what the victims described as flooding similar to the disastrous 2009 Ondoy devastation in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
As of Sunday, among the areas which declared a state of calamity were the entire province of Cavite; the cities of Marikina, Olongapo and Balanga; and some municipalities in Bataan, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac.
Thousands of residents were forced to flee their homes due to massive flooding brought about by torrential monsoon rains over the weekend.
Hundreds of families remain in various evacuation centers although the flooding has already started to subside.
Albayalde said he also ordered the deployment of 4,058 policemen to assist in the evacuation and in relief distribution efforts.
Of the number, a total of 591 were already deployed while 3,467 policemen are on standby.
Albayalde, along with Metro Manila police chief Guillermo Eleazar, conducted Monday an aerial inspection of the devastated areas using the newly-purchased PNP helicopter.