The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) could take the cement industry players to court for profiteering as prices of cement have reached to as much as P270 per 40kg bag from only P205 before December last year.
According to DTI Undersecretary Zenaida C. Maglaya, there is planned price control on the commodity.
In this planned court case, the DTI would be acting as complainant on behalf of the consumers.
Should the DTI make its threat good, this would be the first time that it would press charges versus the cement industry in court.
In the past, the DTI has been resorting to administrative cases to act on consumer complaints.
The first time was when it filed a case against the Manila Electric Co. on power rates before the Energy Regulatory Board.
Maglaya explained that bringing these cement firms to court would be necessary to force the cement industry to submit production, deliveries and cost documents but would also subject them to a long and slow battle in court.
“They can be subpoenaed,” she said. Profiteering carries a fine of P1 million while hoarding, P2 million plus imprisonment.
Maglaya pointed out that cement manufacturers have not been transparent, and would not heed DTI’s requests for documents citing confidentiality while being probed administratively.