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By: Victor Baldemor Ruiz

Secretary of National Defense Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. has warned that authorities will go after hoarders and manipulators preying on consumers as the country transitions to the La Niña weather phenomenon.

The Defense Chief issued this warning during the fifth meeting of the presidential task force on El Niño response as the government gears up for La Niña.

During the task force meeting held at Camp Aguinaldo earlier this month, Secretary Teodoro said the Department of National Defense (DND) is ready to provide support to agencies involved in the price monitoring of basic necessities and prime commodities.

Secretary Teodoro, chairperson of the task force, said curbing price manipulation and holding hoarders accountable will be among the priorities in government response.

“Access to affordable basic commodities such as rice is exceptionally crucial to millions of Filipino consumers. Any sudden fluctuation in the price of rice resonates on the daily lives of Filipinos,” Secretary Teodoro said.

“Whatever support is needed by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture, rest assured we are here ready to assist them,” the Defense Chief added.

Secretary Teodoro said there is a need to intensify price and supply monitoring efforts in markets to protect consumers from profiteering amid the weather phenomenon.

Under President Marcos’ Executive Order No. 53, which directs the government to streamline, reactivate, and reconstitute the old El Niño task forces under EO No. 16 (s. 2001) and Memorandum Order No. 38 (s. 2019), Secretary Teodoro was appointed chairperson of the task force, with Science and Technology Secretary Renato U. Solidum designated as co-chairperson.

Signed on January 19, 2024, President Marcos’ executive order directs the task force to develop a comprehensive disaster preparedness and rehabilitation plan for El Niño and La Niña to provide “systematic, holistic, and results-driven interventions” to help the public cope and minimize their devastating effects.

The President also designated the following officials as task force members: Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga, Secretary of Agriculture Francis Tiu Laurel Jr., Secretary of Health Teodoro J. Herbosa, and Secretary of National Economic and Development Authority Arsenio M. Balisacan.

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