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 issued a Supplemental Anti-Hoarding and Anti-Panic Buying Directive, through Memorandum Circular No. 20-10 dated 31 March 2020, providing for additional vital or essential goods, regardless of brand). 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. [See Price Freeze During COVID-19 Emergency: Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2020-01]
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
- Face Mask : 5 pieces N88 (surgical) any type or brand; 5 pieces N95 (industrial) any type or brand
- Hand Sanitizer : 2 pieces, regardless of size
- Disinfecting Liquids : 2 pieces, regardless of size
- Disinfectant Wipes or Towelettes (such as wet wipes and baby wipes) : 4 containers or packs (added under MC 20-10)
- Bath Soap : 5 bars (if individually sold); 1 pack (if sold as a pack)
- Locally-produced Detergent Soap : Powder (2 boxes, or 2 bundles if sold in sachet); Bar (2 long bars or bareta, or the equivalent thereof) [added under MC 20-10]
- Toilet Paper : 10 pieces (if sold per coil); 1 pack (if sold as a pack)
- Toothpaste : 4 tubes (added under MC 20-10)
- Mouthwash : 4 bottles (added under MC 20-10)
- 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)
- Canned Pork : 10 cans (added under MC 20-10)
- Canned beef : 10 cans (added under MC 20-10)
- Cooking oil : 4 bottles or packs (added under MC 20-10)
- Locally produced condiments (soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce) : 2 bottles or packs of each type of condiment (added under MC 20-10)
- Dried fish : 6 packs (added under MC 20-10)
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.
In case the DTI Circular is adopted by LGUs as an ordinance, it shall be coordinated with the DTI. In case of conflict in the quantity per transaction, the MC or the ordinance which prescribes the smaller quantity shall prevail. [Added under MC 20-10]
Exclusion from Coverage
The limits provided in the MC do not apply if made by a National Government Agency (NGA) or Local Government Unit (LGU) pursuant to a program to distribute basic grocery items to qualified beneficiaries, provided that the retailer shall still have sufficient stocks for regular consumers. If the inventory is not enough to accommodate the requirements of the NGA/LGU, the retailer may refer the NGA/LGU to the manufacturer/s concerned for direct purchase. [Added under MC 20-10]
The exclusion from coverage does not cover disinfectants like sanitizers and alcohol products (Added under MC 20-10). This means that NGAs and LGUs cannot buy these items in bulk from retailers.
The exclusion on bulk purchases is for the benefit of NGAs and LGUs, which means that private entities distributing relief goods are not covered by the exclusions.
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.