Vol. XCI No. 15
Jan. 24, 2020
Taal Volcano begins to build up for a powerful return, according to the latest PHIVOLCS advisory, maintaining volcano alert level 4, a week and a few days after the first sign of activity.
Perhaps the most striking part of the past few days is the meteoric rise of N95 mask prices, which has negatively affected the residents that have easy access to the N95 masks. tWS believes that simply telling retailers to refrain from unreasonably pricing N95 masks will be ineffective. Immediate placement of suggested retail prices (SRPs) will solve this, and future problems.
Netizens have blasted numerous businesses and resellers who have bought these masks for their original price and jacked it up by 500% thus gathering enough of a stir, which prompted DTI to send monitoring teams in affected areas of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Quezon, and Metro Manila.
Returning reports from the teams had the prices of N95 masks selling for as much as P200; and surgical masks at P4, which further torched unscrupulous individuals and businesses. DTI then warned against overpricing with the threat of appropriate administrative and criminal charges.
There are also reports of fake, and also overpriced N95 masks as early as two days after the first volcanic activity. It began proliferating when stores ran out of masks due to panic buying, which triggered a price freeze for basic commodities and protective gear — and profits were made with supplies of the counterfeit N95s. These masks were found to be thinner than the original N95s that are designed to be thick.
Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act of 1992, makes sure that the supply and price of basic commodities are stabilized, especially during times of emergency. More than a dozen volcanic events have occurred, some of them internationally known, like the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. As to why masks have not been classified as either basic nor prime good is beyond tWS, but we are glad that DTI and DOH have recommended its inclusion in the list of basic and prime goods.
tWS knows that desperation in crisis is a normal response, but actions like this which jeopardize the lives of many are downright despicable. In times of crisis, taking advantage of the hardship of our fellow countrymen should be condemned, and is a concept not welcome in these times of difficulty.