Despite President Duterte’s sarcastic statement in a press conference earlier this week regarding the so-called COVID-19 outbreak in the country, residents from Metro Manila rushed to the supermarket and started panic buying. Many of them hoarded all sorts of basic precautionary stuff such as masks, toilet papers, and soaps. Anxious about the inconsistent reports and in fear of shortness of commodities, some also bought large amount of noodles, canned goods, bottled water, and ironically, liquors. In the city streets, you can see numbers of people lined up in queue outside grocery stores to purchase what they can as preparation for the anticipated lockdown; causing the shelves of some groceries to be empty.
Meanwhile, amidst the reported shortages of toilet paper supplies abroad, many consumers also complained about local online sellers hoarding alcohols and hand sanitizers to, according to those who complained, re-sell in a very high price. This caught the attention of the president’s office and commenting about the issue, Spokesperson Salvador Panelo warned, “The Office of the President hereby gives warning to those hoarding vital commodities, which create a hike in the prices, as well as selling them beyond their regular prices, that their actions will be dealt with accordingly in pursuance of public safety and order. Those who unscrupulously take advantage of the health crisis will also be arrested and dealt with in accordance with law.”
Assuring the public, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that “the government is ready” even if the lockdown will be announced so therefore there is no need for panic buying. This has been expected as thePresident issued “Proclamation 922, a state of public health emergency” recommended by the Department of Health (DOH) to mobilize governmental and non-governmental agencies of the country as a response to the outbreak. In connection to this, DTI advised businesses to strictly implement “60-day price freeze on all basic commodities”. The department also decided to cancel the 2020 National Food Fair in relation to the president’s proclamation.
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- Featured image: Filipino shoppers stock up to ride out coronavirus outbreak