Consumers have resorted to hoarding and panic buying, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) observed in its Memorandum Circular No. 20-07 dated 19 March 2020 (Anti-Hoarding and Anti-Panic Buying). The DTI also noted that if this consumer behavior, if allowed to continue, will not only cause more fear and prevent other consumers from purchasing what they need, but they will also cause artificial shortage and cause prices to soar. The DTI, therefore, decided to issue the Circular for the information and guidance of everyone. Here are the salient points of the Circular.
Prices of basic necessities are automatically frozen at their prevailing price. As such, all retailers are mandated to abide by the provisions of the Price Act and ensure that basic necessities are sold at their prevailing prices. No price increase on basic necessities may take place for the entire duration of the Public Health Emergency.
[For the definition of Public Health Emergency, refer to the Primer on the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act (Republic Act No. 11332)]
Reasonable Limit in Sale/Purchase of Covered Goods
Retailers are enjoined to sell, and consumers are enjoined to buy, products in such quantity sufficient to meet their needs only for a maximum of seven (7) days. The sale of the following non-food and food products are limited to the following quantity per transaction:
- 70% Solution antiseptic or disinfectant alcohol : 2 pieces, regardless of volume
- Hand Sanitizer : 2 pieces, regardless of size
- Disinfecting Liquids : 2 pieces, regardless of size
- Bath Soap : 5 bars (if individually sold); 1 pack (if sold as a pack)
- Toilet Paper : 10 pieces (if sold per coil); 1 pack (if sold as a pack)
- Face Mask : 5 pieces N88 (surgical) any type or brand; 5 pieces N95 (industrial) any type or brand
- Locally produced instant noodles (mami, pancit canton) : 5 pieces per type per brand
- Locally produced canned sardines : 5 cans per type per brand (regular size); 3 cans per type per brand (big size)
- Canned Regular Milk : 5 cans per type per brand (small); 2 cans per type per brand (other than small)
- Powdered Milk in Sachet : 2 bundles per brand
- Instant Coffee in Sachet : 2 bundles per brand
- Mineral Water : 10 bottles any brand (small); 8 bottles any brand (medium); 5 bottles any brand (large); 2 bottles any brand (extra large)
- Loaf Bread : 4 packs any kind, any brand (half loaf); 2 packs any kind, any brand (whole loaf)
Retailers are directed to post notices in conspicuous places within their outlets advising consumers of the quantity of basic necessities that they are allowed to purchase.
Without prejudice to the penalties prescribed under relevant ordinances issued by local government units, any person found violating the provisions of the Circular shall be charged under pertinent laws, including the Price Act with a fine ranging between P5,000 and P2,000,000 and imprisonment of not less than 5 years, but not more than 15 years. [See Primer on the Price Act.]
Scope of the Circular
The guidelines apply to all persons, natural or juridical, who purchase or sell, or offer for sale, the products covered by the Circular.
Objective of the Circular
The objective is to implement measures to prevent the unreasonable increase in the prices of all basic necessities and strictly ensure the availability of all such products during the duration of the declared public health emergency.
For purposes of such emergency, products intended for the protection of health, including but not limited, to surgical and industrial masks, medical devices, alcohol, hand sanitizers and other disinfectants are covered.