By Priam Nepomuceno

DND Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – With the country soon to transition to the La Niña weather phenomenon, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr. on Sunday said the government will crack down hard on hoarders and price manipulators out to victimize the public.

Teodoro, chairperson of the Task Force El Niño, said curbing price manipulation and holding hoarders accountable will be among the priorities in the 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 (in) the daily lives of Filipinos,” he added.

Teodoro also said the DND is ready to provide support to agencies involved in the price monitoring of basic necessities and prime commodities.

“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,” he said.

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), Teodoro was appointed chairperson of the task force, with Science and Technology Secretary Renato U. Solidum designated as co-chairperson.

Signed on Jan. 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. (PNA)