By Anna Leah Gonzales
MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Monday vowed that the government will continue to go after rice smugglers and hoarders, said to be behind the recent spike in rice prices.
“Patuloy po ang ating magiging kampanya sa paghuhuli ng mga smuggler, sa paghuhuli sa mga hoarder, tuloy-tuloy yan (Our campaign to catch smugglers, to catch hoarders, will continue),” Marcos said in his departure speech before heading to Indonesia for the 43rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits.
“Sa pag-aaral namin ang dahilan lamang nito ay talagang nandyan ang mga smuggler atsaka mga hoarders (In our study, the only reason for this is that there are smugglers and hoarders),” he added.
Marcos said the government has to step in as the recent increase in prices is already affecting consumers.
“Ako po sa aking pag-iisip ang aking pag-approach pagka dumating sa ekonomiya ay nais kong… hangga’t maari ay ayaw kong pakialaman ang merkado at pabayaan natin that the market do its work ngunit pinapakialaman na ang merkado natin kaya kailangan pumasok ang pamahaalan at ito nga ang aming ginawa at tayo ay naglagay ng price ceiling para sa presyo ng bigas (My approach when it comes to the economy is that I want… as long as possible, I don’t want to interfere with the market and let the market do its work but our market is being interfered so the government has to step in and this is what we did and we put a price ceiling for the price of rice),” he said.
The President recently signed Executive Order No. 39, setting price caps on regular and well-milled rice in the whole country that will take effect on Sept. 5.
Under the EO, the mandated price cap for regular milled rice is PHP41 per kilogram while the mandated price ceiling for well-milled rice is PHP45 per kilogram.
Marcos, however, assured that the government has a plan for rice retailers to be affected by the imposition of a price ceiling.
“Naunawaan namin kaagad mula sa simula ng usapan tungkol sa price control sa bigas, naunawaan na namin at nakita kaagad na mayroong mga retailer na maiipit dahil sila ay bumili ng mahal na bigas (We understood right from the beginning of the talk about price control on rice, we understood and saw right away that there are retailers who will be affected because they bought expensive rice),” he said.
“Ngayon ay mapipilitan sila na ipagbili ang mahal na bigas sa murang halaga. Alam namin yun kaya gumawa kami, meron kaming plano. (Now they will be forced to sell the expensive rice at a cheap price. We know that, so we have a plan),” he added.
Marcos said the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture are preparing a list of rice retailers to be adversely affected by the price cap.
The government is also calculating the possible losses that will be incurred due to the imposition of a price ceiling.
Marcos said the Department of Social Welfare and Development was also instructed to allocate funds to be used to help the affected rice retailers.
He said the price ceiling is only a temporary measure.
“This is a temporary measure. The rice supply will be coming in the second week of September. Nandyan na yung ani ng Pilipinas, nandyan na yung importation natin, wala na magiging dahilan bakit tataas ang presyo ng bigas (The Philippine harvest will be here, our imports will be here, there will be no reason why the price of rice will increase),” he said. (PNA)