Speaker warns traders: Gov’t can take over importation; Customs can seize hoarded rice | Inquirer News

Speaker warns traders: Gov’t can take over importation; Customs can seize hoarded rice

/ 04:59 PM September 01, 2023

Speaker warns traders: Gov’t can take over imported goods; Customs can seize hoarded rice

MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has warned rice traders that the government can take over importation duties and sell rice at a lower price or subsidized rates if smuggling and hoarding continue.

Romualdez, in a meeting with representatives from the Philippine Rice Industry Stakeholders Movement (PRISM) and the Grain Retailers Confederation of the Philippines (GreCon) on Friday in Makati, also said that the Bureau of Customs could also seize smuggled and hoarded rice and sell it at a lower price.


“Don’t try to scare the government na ‘hey, you know, we’ll all band together and just import.’  With all due respect, they can say that, but the government can take over and do the importing itself, or just break even or even subsidize, because, at the end of the day, the people, the 100 million Filipinos, will not be overcharged and go hungry,” he said.


“So if we find out that people are importing and hoarding and profiteering, we’re going to raid.  And  Customs can just seize it and just give it to the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development), to Kadiwa, you know, for sale at a much, much lower price point, you know,” he added.

READ: Smuggled, hoarded rice must be sold at very low price, says Romualdez

Romualdez also said that the prices of basic commodities, particularly onions and sugar, have already stabilized after the government went after people smuggling and hoarding these items — warning that attempts to earn much more by storing rice and waiting for prices to escalate will be dealt with accordingly.

“For onions, now it’s P70 (per kilo); how much was it last year?  So we cracked down […] sugar has stabilized na rin […]  You can make money, but (not too much) naman, kawawa eh (the people are pitiful),” he said.

“Inflation rate goes high because of these high prices of commodities.  When inflation goes up, it affects the whole economy just because some people are being greedy and are not doing the right thing,” he added.

Romualdez was accompanied by House Committee on Agriculture and food chairperson and Quezon 1st District Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga; vice chair and Quezon 2nd District Rep. David Suarez; Committee on Appropriations chair and Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Elizaldy Co; Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Alexander Marcos; and Deputy Majority Leader and ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Erwin Tulfo.


The six lawmakers talked to the following individuals:

-Rowena Sadicon, PRISM lead convener
-Orly Manuntag, GreCon
-Atty. Halmen Valdez, PRISM secretary
-Elizabeth Vana, President of Nueva Ecija Rice Millers Association

Romualdez had issued a statement stating that most of the House supports President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s Executive Order No. 39, which placed a price ceiling on rice — at P41 to P45 per kilogram.

READ: Romualdez says rice price cap ‘timely and necessary’

“We, in the House of Representatives, stand firmly behind President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s decisive action to ensure every Filipino’s access to affordable rice. The imposition of price ceilings on this staple food is a timely and necessary intervention to shield our fellow countrymen from the undue economic burden caused by unwarranted surges in rice prices,” the House members said.

“We deeply understand and empathize with the plight of our people, especially the underprivileged and marginalized who are most affected by the surge in rice prices. The joint efforts of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in implementing this measure while simultaneously addressing the challenges brought about by both external global events and internal market manipulations, are highly commendable,” they added.

READ: Bongbong Marcos orders price caps for rice at P41 to P45 per kilo

Rep. Marcos asked the rice traders’ organizations if they could also help the government monitor hoarding activities — to which Sadicon replied that they would have to talk with their members.

But the lawmaker stressed that talking might not be enough.

“The Speaker said and indicated na hindi na talaga tayo titigil (we won’t stop), so we’re gonna go to Visayas, Mindanao, it’s clear naman that some of these people are part of your group, so is there some sort of commitment we can get from you guys to do your part in helping us,” Rep. Marcos said.

“We will talk to them definitely, and we have been reminding them,” Sadicon replied.

“It’s gonna have to be more than talk,” Marcos added.

Romualdez then assured rice traders that the government would help them — unless the traders themselves were part of the problem.

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“If you want to be part of the solution, you are with us, we will help you, we’re going to support you. But if you’re part of the problem, we will root you out,” Romualdez noted.

READ: Romualdez wants BOC to conduct more warehouse inspections vs rice hoarders

TAGS: Bureau of Customs, hoarders, hoarding, Martin Romualdez, rice

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