On March 11, Wednesday, World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, a virus that has spread throughout many corners of the globe. While the world is in panic, it’s important to step back and think clearly and considerately. Am I simply preparing myself and my family or am I hoarding? But what is the difference?
First, we must understand what it means to “hoard”. According to Cambridge Dictionary, hoarding means “the act of collecting large amounts of something and keeping it for yourself”. Hoarding is when it directly affects other people and may also be called “panic buying”. When we hoard, we deprive other people from getting their own needs. People need basic necessities such as food, water, medicine, masks (for those who are sick or take care of the sick), disinfectants and sanitary items.
At a time like this, it is only right to be prepared. However, it’s also right to leave some for others. Get an amount of basic necessities good for a week or two. It’s important to consider food that won’t need to be refrigerated and can stay good on the shelf for a long time. There are canned food, juices, rice, beans, peanut butter, cereals, and etc. If you have pets, take them into consideration! Get them three weeks or a month’s worth of food and medicine (if needed).
Filipinos, most especially in Metro Manila, hoard alcohol, toilet paper, and disinfectants from supermarkets. The continuous announcement of the COVID-19 has caused so much commotion around the country that people panic by purchasing bulk in the aforementioned supplies.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) coordinates with grocery and supermarket owners to limit down the quantity of items per person in light of the panic buying. Some grocery stores even put an end to hoarding by implementing rules like: “Alcohol Limit at 1 Piece Per Customer”. Cities like Muntinlupa had also set an anti-hoarding ordinance, limiting individual consumers the kinds of goods they can get per day.
When we hoard sanitizers, hand wipes, and alcohol, we increase the risk of virus spread by depriving other people the chance to protect themselves. With masks, we are depriving frontliners like our doctors and nurses for their own personal protective equipment to save lives. Buying more than multiple surgical face masks is ineffective if you are not showing symptoms or not taking care of the sick. Additionally, medicine is also being hoarded from drug stores as an “emergency” case. While it’s important to have some medication and over-the-counter drugs, make sure to only get an amount that is appropriate for your family and that is good for a week or two.
Last March 12, the DTI warned people who hoard of basic commodities that they may face jail time for their actions. Those who hoard, resell and overprice basic necessities like alcohol, medicine, and face masks is under the Consumer Act of Republic Act (RA) No. 7391. This is a policy to protect the interest of the consumer to promote general welfare and to establish standards of conduct for business and industry. The Price Act or RA No. 7581 also sees this act as profiteering. Both laws have criminal and administrative penalties and sanctions up to P300,000 and may be imposed and/or imprisonment of one year.
If you have more than enough supplies for you and your family, consider donating them to people who may need! Whether this be monetary or supplies, your hand is a great help. Frontliners are in need of our help and are asking for personal protective equipment, alcohol, food, and etc. There are testing kits on the way that’s being developed by different organizations that need monetary help for production and distribution of kits. Here is a list of organizations that need your help!
- Mara Cepeda, PH coronavirus cases now at 142; 1st Filipino recovers from disease, March 2020
- Ralf Rivas, Hoarding, overpricing would lead to criminal charges, warns DTI, March 2020
- Arygll Cyrus Geducos, Hoarders of masks, alcohol, vital commodities will be arrested – Palace, March 2020
- DTI asks supermarkets to limit sale amid COVID-19 panic buying, March 2020
- Ki, Grocery Store Lauded For Implementing “1 Alcohol Per Customer Rule”, March 2020