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Senator Imee Marcos urged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to ramp up surprise inspections on school supply vendors deviating from its month-old price guide.

Marcos said vendors will be taking advantage of the first week of classes when students and teachers are rushing to complete their school supplies and have no more time to haggle.

“Iniisnab ng mga tindera ang price guide ng DTI,” she said of the government agency’s ‘Gabay sa Pamimili ng School Supplies sa 2023’.

(Vendors are ignoring the DTI price guide.)

Random price monitoring conducted by the senator’s office in some Metro Manila markets over the weekend and Monday showed that basic notebooks cost 23 to 60 pesos each, or up to eight pesos more than the DTI price guide’s range of 23 to 52 pesos.

Pad paper was also cheaper in DTI’s price guide, at 20 to 28 pesos, but cost as much as 35 pesos particularly in Caloocan and Rizal markets.

Crayons in various quantities cost 30 to 100 pesos per box, while DTI’s price guide listed them at 24 to 69 pesos only.

However, assorted pencils and ballpens could be found at cheaper prices of seven to 11 pesos, compared to DTI’s listing of 11 to 17 pesos.

Bargain hunters buying in bulk in Divisoria will find that regular notebooks previously priced at 180 to 200 pesos per ream now cost 250 pesos, while spiral notebooks that used to cost 180 to 220 pesos per ream now sell for as high as 300 pesos.

Marcos credited the DTI for its suprise inspections in Divisoria and other markets in the past two weeks but said that as soon as inspections are over, prices were being marked up again.

“Ilang magulang ang mismo nang nagsabi na wala rin sila magawa kahit ipamukha sa mga tindera ang price guide ng DTI,” Marcos said.

(Some parents themselves have said that they couldn’t do anything even if they confront vendors with DTI’s price guide.)

“Klaro na mas kailangang tutukan pa,” the senator added.

(It’s clear that closer monitoring is needed.)