February 28, 2024

Seventy-two establishments and grocery stores in the Cordillera were found selling medicines and medical supplies, particularly face masks and essential medicines, beyond the suggested retail price.
Based on the monitoring in Baguio and Benguet by the regional offices of the Department of Health, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Trade and Industry, and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group; and in the other provinces by the provincial DOH offices, 72 of the 214 drug and grocery stores checked were found not complying with the SRP in line with the price freeze the government has ordered due to the ongoing global concern on the new coronavirus (Covid-2019) and may face corresponding sanctions under Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act after due notice and hearing.
DOH-Cordillera pharmacist Aiden B. Bermisa said six out of the non-compliant establishments are in Baguio City.
In Benguet, 14 of the 58 drug and grocery stores monitored are non-compliant; eight in Kalinga out of 19; 18 in Mountain Province out of 19; seven in Abra out of 24; 14 in Ifugao out of 24; and five out of eight establishments in Apayao.
She said some of the monitored establishments have exceeded the SRP particularly for N-95 and disposable masks, while the others sold essential medical commodities like alcohol also beyond the SRP.
The updated SRP for disposable face masks ranges from P3 to P12.
Essential medicines have been identified as basic necessities, especially in times of natural calamities and manmade disasters that put the life and health of Filipinos at risk because of unfavorable conditions.
Bermisa said the DOH has conducted the random monitoring along with the concerned agencies as part of its mandate to monitor and regulate drug prices and to ensure consumers are adequately protected against hoarding and cartel.
Atty. Veronica Sandra de Jesus-Soaken, DOH Cordillera legal officer, said the DOH, as implementing agency, is sending notices within the week to the non-compliant establishments, which will have to explain or submit their comment on the findings based on their monitoring.
She said the establishments will be dealt with under RA 7581 where DOH may reprimand, issue cease and desist orders, or capture items that are subject of overpricing. Depending on the comments, the DOH will conduct a second round of monitoring and would impose sanctions based on the evaluation of the establishments’ compliance or number of violations. – Hanna C. Lacsamana