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DTI, DA, and DOH temporarily freeze prices on basic necessities as part of Covid-19 remedial measures

Recent developments

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agriculture (DA), and Department of Health (DOH), citing the mandate of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 (Republic Act 10121) and the Price Act (Republic Act 7581, as amended), have issued Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2020-01 entitled “Price Freeze under a State of Calamity throughout the Philippines due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019” (JMC).

What the circular says

Pursuant to the JMC, prices of basic necessities under the jurisdiction of the DTI, DA, and DOH are frozen at their prevailing prices as of 8 March 2020 and until 15 May 2020, unless sooner lifted by the President. During this period, the implementing agencies shall ensure that the price freeze is strictly implemented and enforced. These basic necessities include, among others, food, water, agricultural products, medicine, and medical supplies.

A full list of products covered by the JMC, as well as their respective suggested retail prices, are contained in DTI Suggested Retail Price Bulletin dated 30 September 2019, DA Administrative Circular No. 1, series of 2020, and DOH Department Circular Nos. 2020-0142 and 2020-0157.

The provisions of the JMC apply to all persons, natural and juridical, including those using an internet platform or other medium, who sell or offer for sale basic necessities.

Any person or entity found violating the price freeze order may be subjected to a fine ranging between Php 5,000 and Php 2,000,000, and imprisonment of not less than 5 years but not more than 15 years. This is without prejudice to penalties prescribed under relevant ordinances issued by local government units and other applicable laws.

Actions to consider

Companies in the agricultural, food, pharmaceutical, consumer goods, and retail industries should monitor their pricing to ensure compliance with the price freeze under the JMC.

Quisumbing Torres will continue to provide further updates with respect to the implementation of the JMC, and we are prepared to assist in your legal requirements during these challenging times.


Maria Christina Macasaet-Acaban is a partner, and the head of the Corporate & Commercial Practice Group, the Healthcare Industry Group, and the Competition Focus Group, in Quisumbing Torres, a member firm of Baker & McKenzie International. She is a member of Baker & McKenzie International's Asia Pacific Healthcare Steering Committee, and the Asia Pacific Competition Steering Committee. She has 19 years of experience advising and representing multinational corporations on domestic and cross-border transactions.


Ina Alexandra Dominguez is a senior associate in Quisumbing Torres' Corporate & Commercial Practice Group. She has eight years of experience advising domestic and foreign clients on issues relating to mergers and acquisitions, commercial law, real estate, mining and natural resources law, energy, and infrastructure projects.


Martin Alfredo Benjamin Lagmay is an associate in Quisumbing Torres’ Corporate & Commercial Practice Group. He has two years of experience working on corporate and commercial matters including mergers & acquisitions, investments, establishment of corporate entities with secondary license requirements, and general corporate secretarial duties for local and multinational companies.