Business Leaders Pledge Christmas Price Cap in the Philippines

An association of Catholic business leaders will curtail price gouging by setting a cap on prices during the Christmas shopping season.

MANILA, Philippines — A group of Catholic business leaders in the Philippines has forged an agreement to implement a cap on the prices of goods and commodities during the Christmas holiday season.

The group of more than 3,000 entrepreneurs said the decision was made in order not to take advantage of the high demand during the Christmas season, reported UCA News.

People in the Catholic-majority nation are expected to begin partying in early December, which tempts businesses to raise the prices of commodities due to high demand.

Capping the price of goods and commodities reminds “each member of the association that although we are in business for profit, we still have a moral obligation to our fellow men,” Larry Valdez, president of the Catholic Businessmen Association of the Philippines, told UCA News.

Valdez said the groups would release a table of prices that its members would follow in selling goods commonly used during Christmas.

“Millions of Filipinos — rich or poor — are working hard to provide food on the table during the Christmas season. The money that they are going to spend is hard-earned. Thus, it should not be taken advantage of by profiteers,” Valdez added.

Valdez’s group had responded to the call of the country’s Catholic bishops, who urged business establishments not to engage in profiteering during the Christmas season.

“The birth of the Lord is fast approaching. It is proper to prepare for it in a special and particular way. While we wait for Advent, let us not forget that Christmas is not an occasion to take advantage of the poor. … Profiteering makes the rich richer and the poor poorer,” the bishops said in their statement.

The business association also asked the Department of Trade and Industry to ensure compliance with the Price Act, a law that prohibits hoarding and manipulation of prices of basic commodities.

Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual said that the agency would act against those who would seek to make hefty profits.

“We will implement the full strength of the law by imposing fines and imprisonment to those found guilty of profiteering,” Pascual told reporters on Nov. 8.
 
“We have the law that prohibits and punishes any person who commits any act of illegal price manipulation of any basic necessity or prime commodity — profiteering, hoarding, and cartel,” Pascual added.
 
In January of last year, authorities filed profiteering charges against 124 business establishments believed to have hoarded essential goods for the 2021 Christmas season. More than 100 of them were fined, and their business permits were revoked.
 
Ordinary Catholics, however, doubt that big corporations would follow the price cap set by the association.
 
Francisca Oliveros, a Catholic mother from the capital, Manila, told UCA News, “When money talks, everything becomes a gray area.” She thanked the bishops for their statement but said she doubted that businesspeople outside of the association would respect the price cap.
 
On their part, the the Catholic Businessmen Association of the Philippines said that having a price cap would remind every Catholic entrepreneur of the mission to God and country.
 
This article first appaeared in UCA News.

Featured image: People shop at a toy store in Manila, Philippines, Dec. 14, 2020. A group of Catholic business leaders in the Philippines has forged an agreement to implement a cap on the prices of goods and commodities during this year’s Christmas holiday season. (CNS photo/Lisa Marie David, Reuters)

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