Water is life. And with a water crisis plaguing certain areas in Metro Manila life had become increasingly difficult for affected residents. Reports said some people stopped showing up for work or sending their children to school entirely because they haven’t had water for almost a week.
It also put a strain on their budget as prices of bottled water spiked from P30 a gallon to P50. Even the price of water containers, such as plastic drums that were originally sold for P150 to P200 each, was hiked to as much as P350.
Amid mounting complains from affected residents, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) inspected water refilling stations and stores selling water containers, warning them of legal consequences of profiteering.
According to the DTI, any price increase more than 10 percent in the item’s price the previous month can be considered an act of profiteering and is punishable under Republic Act 7581, or the Price Act, with imprisonment of at least five years and a fine of not less than P5,000.
But some bold merchants are unfazed as the text of the law states that the offense of profiteering only covers excessive pricing of “basic necessity or prime commodity.” They insist that in determining the selling price of water containers, they can march to the tune of their own drum.