MANILA – The government on Friday called on the consumers in Metro Manila to remain calm, as it assured that there are enough essential supplies and food in the metropolis’ markets amid the rising cases of 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the country.
The assurance was made, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte announced the imposition of “community quarantine” in Metro Manila, after the Covid-10 alert system was raised to Code Red Sub-level 2.
During the “Laging Handa” press briefing with Palace reporters, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez assured the residents in Metro Manila that there will be uninterrupted delivery of basic supplies.
“Importante, may supply parati tayo sa ating lugar kahit qinuarantine iyan. There’s food and even ‘yung ibang mga pangangailangan natin – personal goods or personal care products (What’s important is we always have enough supply in our places that are under community quarantine. There’s food, personal goods or personal care products, etcetera),” he said.
Lopez gave the guarantee, after Duterte also ordered the suspension of domestic land, air, and sea travel to and from Manila from March 15 to April 14 “subject to the daily review” of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID).
Duterte’s latest move came after the number of people infected with Covid-19 climbed to 52.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that despite the implementation of the community quarantine, the transport of goods to Metro Manila from other provinces would not be blocked.
“This means that the residents of NCR (National Capital Region) should not worry about the supplies of produced foods and other goods in our markets, groceries, and retailers,” Nograles, who joined Lopez at the press conference, said.
Lopez advised the public to stop hoarding unnecessary items because supplies would deplete fast, disadvantaging other people.
He also warned that panic-buying would only result in “artificial shortage.”
“Hindi po tayo mauubusan. Tuluy-tuloy po ang supplies natin dito sa Metro Manila (We will not have a shortage. There’s a continuity in supplies here in Metro Manila,” Lopez said. “Huwag ho mag-panic-buying dahil lalo hong magkakaroon ng artificial shortage (Stop panic-buying because it will only create artificial shortage).”
On Thursday, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) implemented a nationwide price freeze on basic necessities, following the declaration of a state of public health emergency in the country due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
The DTI said prices of basic necessities will be frozen at their prevailing prices for 60 days, unless lifted by Duterte.
Shun hoarders, profiteers
Many shoppers continue to flock to the stores and braved long queues to buy medical supplies and food items in bulk.
Some are also taking advantage by hoarding medical products like face masks and alcohols and selling them beyond the regular prices.
Lopez told consumers to avoid buying basic commodities to those who are selling expensive items.
He also warned people who are selling products through social media that their transactions are “illegal” since they are not “certified sellers.”
“Huwag tangkilikin ‘yung mga online sellers ng kanyang produkto. And to the sellers, ihinto niyo na po iyan (Do not buy the products of online sellers. And to the sellers, stop that),” Lopez said.
Lopez said the DTI, with the help of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, and National Bureau of Investigation, is now intensifying monitoring against overpricing and hoarding of medical supplies.
He also warned that hoarders and profiteers will face criminal charges. (PNA)