18 stores face fines over ‘overpriced’ masks

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 27) — The Department of Trade and Industry is looking to fine 18 stores up to ₱300,000 caught overpricing face masks during the eruption of Taal Volcano.

The DTI had earlier announced that it is suing 12 medical supply stores that were caught selling overpriced and substandard N95 masks. The Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau issued notices of violations against six more establishments after finding that the price of N95 masks jumped from ₱50 to ₱180 per piece.

All 18 stores have been issued notices of violation of the Consumer Act and were asked to explain within 48 hours after they received the notices.

The DTI said they found their explanations insufficient, prompting them to file formal charges against the stores.

Taal Volcano’s eruption caused a spike in demand for N95 masks as people sought to protect themselves against volcanic ash, which can cause serious respiratory problems when inhaled.

The Department of Health has also imposed a price freeze on these protective gear, saying the N95 mask should only cost between ₱45-₱105, while disposable surgical masks should cost a maximum of ₱8 per piece.