Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said his department will suggest to retailers that sales of face masks be limited per customer as demand for these have surged following the eruption of Taal Volcano on Sunday.
Social media users posted that N95 masks have immediately gone out of stock in some stores in Bambang in Manila which is known for selling medical supplies and equipment, as ashfall from Taal reached Metro Manila.
It is advisable to use N95 face mask that properly covers the mouth and nose and helps to block volcanic ash.
There were also reports of profiteering and overpricing. While some stores did not change their prices and still sold N95 masks at around P40 a piece, others have increased their prices to P100 a piece.
Lopez said some retailers jacked up prices of face masks due to the high demand for the product.
“We have dispatched teams to monitor and observe movement of retail prices in the market.”
“The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) hereby issues notice to all retailers that we have dispatched teams to monitor and observe movement of retail prices in the market,” the trade chief said.
“Those found to have unreasonably increased their prices for gas masks, face masks and other similar items, which act is tantamount to profiteering, shall be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law,” the trade head added.
“Prices of basic goods and commodities shall remain stable.”
Meanwhile, Looez reminded retailers that prices of basic goods and commodities will remain stable.
“DTI will not hesitate to file administrative and criminal charges against unscrupulous business entities and individuals who capitalize on the consumers’ need for their own profit,” Lopez said.