Villar, Pascual monitor Noche Buena prices

Catherine Talavera, Romina Cabrera - The Philippine Star
Villar, Pascual monitor Noche Buena prices
Sen. Mark Villar and Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual inspect prices of Noche Buena items at a supermarket in Divisoria, Manila yesterday.
Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Mark Villar joined officials of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) yesterday in their price monitoring of Noche Buena items in Divisoria, Manila.

“Now that Christmas is near, we need to strictly monitor the prices of products to ensure a happy Christmas for fellow Filipinos,” the chairman of the Senate committee on trade, commerce and entrepreneurship said.

Villar, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual and other DTI officials inspected food items regularly used for the Noche Buena including pasta packages, spaghetti and tomato sauce, sandwich spread and canned goods. They checked whether these items are following the 2023 Price Guide for Noche Buena products released by the Consumer Policy and Advocacy Bureau last Nov. 21.

Villar emphasized the importance of regular price monitoring for the protection of consumers, in compliance with the Price Act. This law ensures the availability of basic necessities and prime commodities at reasonable prices at all times while securing a fair return on investment for businesses.

“We are very festive people. The yearly celebration of Noche Buena is a fixture in the Filipino Christmas,” the senator said.

Both Villar and Pascual called for the public’s help in reporting any merchant or vendor that is non-compliant with DTI’s SRP and quality standards. For complaints, the general public can report to the DTI Hotline 1384 or to any social media accounts of the agency.

In a Viber message, Trade Assistant Secretary Amanda Nograles told The STAR that “based on our price monitoring, we found that NB items were sold below or at prices set in the price guide.”

Apart from Noche Buena items the inspection also monitored the enforcement of technical regulations of Christmas lights. “We were also able to confiscate Christmas lights without PS (Philippine Standard) mark or ICC (Import Commodity Clearance) sticker,” Nograles added.

Nograles earlier said that out of the 240 stock keeping units (SKUs), around 35 percent or 83 SKUs have implemented price increases of one to five percent. Also, 15 percent or 37 SKUs posted price increases of six to 10 percent, while 13 percent or 32 SKUs posted price increases of more than 10 percent.

On the other hand, 21 SKUs posted price decreases, while the prices of 34 SKUs were unchanged.

The Noche Buena price guide covers products such as ham, fruit cocktail, keso de bola, cheese, sandwich spread, mayonnaise, pasta or spaghetti, elbow macaroni, salad macaroni, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce and all-purpose cream.

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos has directed local government units to organize their Local Price Coordinating Council (LPCC) to ensure stable supply and prices of commodities during the Christmas holiday.

Abalos said that local chief executives should keep an eye on the prices of Noche Buena items at their local markets as the holiday season nears.

“The task of the LPCC is to protect consumers. That’s why I trust you will put measures in place to ensure their interests are protected and they get their money’s worth,” he said in Filipino.

Abalos said that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is working with DTI, Department of Agriculture (DA) and other agencies to ensure that consumers are not being taken advantage of.

The DILG chief said that local officials have the power to ensure stable supply and that the sellers are sticking with the suggested retail price of commodities.

He warned sellers and retailers to follow the SRP and avoid overpricing their items.

The DA has assured the public that there are no problems with the supply of pork and other commodities this coming holiday.

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