Lopez said the DTI is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to issue an executive order (EO) to prosecute those who had raked-in unfairly large profits on products which are in demand during this situation and those who hoard goods whether for their own consumption or re-sale at higher prices.

The trade chief said Duterte has agreed with DTI’s proposal and the EO is expected to be out “as soon as possible.”

The trade head said the EO will include measures against online sellers that are overpricing personal hygiene products.

“The EO will include measures against online sellers that are overpricing personal hygiene products.”

“Online selling of masks and/or medical devices including alcohol, sanitizers, and the like will be strictly monitored and profiteering and hoarding will be dealt with,” the Cabinet official said.

He added that the EO will arm the DTI with “visitorial powers” together with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau Investigation (NBI) to prevent hoarding and profiteering.

“The EO will arm DTI with visitorial powers together with the PNP and NBI.

“For the deputization also of NBI and PNP for police and intel support. Extra warning for online sellers for overpricing and hoarding,” Lopez said.

Edmond Ramos from Bulacan had encountered an online seller selling a 500-milliliter bottle of isopropyl alcohol at P350 which is way much expensive then its P75 per bottle retail price.

Joe Marie Torrefiel, also from Bulacan, said he already reported to DTI an online seller who is selling a box of 50 surgical masks for P1,700.

Consumers also shared their own experiences as they observed panic buying in supermarkets and groceries.

Arjhay Dulalia, who went for their regular shopping in a supermarket in Valenzuela City on Wednesday night, said they queued for nearly 4 hours at the cashier as many of the customers bought supplies more than what they needed.

The team leader of the said supermarket in Valenzuela City told the Philippine News Agency that cashiers and other staff have had to extend their shift hours as customers bought supplies in larger volumes.

“We were really stressed. We had a very long queue and our workers have to extend working hours to refill stocks in preparation for the next day,” Dulalia said.

On the other hand, a supermarket in Meycauayan City, Bulacan implemented its own measure to prevent panic buying by limiting the purchase of alcohol up to two bottles per customer.

Laban Konsyumer Inc. president Victorio Mario Dimagiba said the behavior of panic buying among consumers by going to supermarkets can even cause the spread of COVID-19.

“The panic buying we are seeing violates the experts’ advice to limit social contact,” Dimagiba said in Filipino. 

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