September 4, 2023
MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has committed to listen and address the worries of rice retailers concerning rice price caps set by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., which will take effect on Tuesday, September 5.
Under Executive Order 39, Marcos ordered a price ceiling of P41 per kilogram for regular-milled rice and P45 for well-milled rice.
According to Romualdez, he will talk to the leaders of rice retailers regarding their concern about losing earnings, a problem they have been raising since they acquired their rice products at nearly P50 per kilo from traders.
“Hindi naman manhid ang gobyerno kaya we want to listen to their concern and we will try to find a solution doon sa pangamba nila na malulugi sila,” the lawmaker said in a statement.
(The government is not numb to their concerns, that is why we want to listen to their concern and we will try to find a solution to their fear of losing profit.)
The lawmaker said he is studying and eyeing to aid retailers affected by the price adjustments, as he assured sellers that the government would help them.
Meanwhile, Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman said that rice retailers should submit their sworn statements to the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry containing their rice inventories and purchase costs to address their concerns on the price caps.
He likewise suggested that the National Food Authority (NFA) buy the retailers’ inventories at a price higher than their procurement costs. After which, he said NFA should resell these supplies to the public regulated price even at a loss.
“This strategy would not only help the farmers with existing and additional subsidies but also the rice retailers and consumers,” Lagman said in a separate statement.
Makabayan says this is band-aid solution
On the other hand, Makabayan lawmaker and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro claimed that the issue of rice affordability needs a “more comprehensive approach,” adding that the implementation of the rice price ceiling is just a “temporary solution to the larger problem of rice affordability in the country.”
“The release of Executive Order 39 by Malacañang clearly indicates that inflation is expected to rise this month due to the exorbitant prices of rice and other commodities. The government allowed the price of rice to skyrocket to P50 to P60 and even more per kilo before imposing the price ceiling, which is already within its mandate,” Castro said in another statement.
The lawmaker explained that rice price caps could be lowered further than the prices set under the EO 39. Following the rule of thumb of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas’ farmers — which took into account the median price of palay purchased by rice traders, as well as expenses for drying, milling, hauling, transportation, and other costs — Castro said the price of rice should only range from P30 to P37.40 per kilo
She also called on the government “to take sincere steps in dismantling the rice cartel, composed of opportunistic importers, traders, and businessmen with connections to the Department of Agriculture, who manipulate the supply and price of rice in the local market.”
“We urge the repeal of RA 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Law (tariffication) and the restoration of the National Food Authority’s mandate to directly procure a significant volume of palay from Filipino farmers. Strengthening local production, rather than relying on imports, is the solution,” Castro said.