Marcos’ order to set price cap on rice draws mixed reactions from senators
MANILA, Philippines — President Bongbong Marcos’ move to set nationwide price caps on rice drew mixed reactions from Filipino lawmakers.
Pursuant to Marcos’ order, the price cap for regular milled rice will be P41 per kilogram, while the price ceiling for well-milled rice is P45 per kilogram.
Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros, in a statement issued Friday, questioned this move, saying that setting a price control is a “lazy job” if the real concern is combating illegal price manipulations like hoarding.
“If there are hoarders who want to reduce the rice supply in the market and jack up the price, then they should be caught,” said Hontiveros.
She then added that even if there are no hoarders, the price of rice will really skyrocket due to the Department of Agriculture’s failure to provide aid and insurance to farmers whose crops were affected by recent weather disturbances.
Hontiveros also reiterated the urgent need to review the Rice Tariffication Law, as well as the management of the Department of Agriculture and the National Food Authority.
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero echoed Hontiveros, saying that the “government should put its money where its mouth is” in order to get rid of the perennial problems involving rice.
“[T]he invocation of the President’s power to impose a price ceiling for rice under the law is that there is an emergency or that there is widespread profiteering, hoarding or price manipulation. Is there? Or are prices just really high because of lack of supply or higher cost of inputs? If there is, why hasn’t the government arrested and or sued anyone for such acts which are illegal?” Escudero asked.
Escudero then urged the administration to admit that there is widespread hoarding and manipulation of rice. He also stressed the need to arrest and file cases against the perpetrators and at the same time allocate a bigger budget for agriculture.
This sentiment was also shared by Senator JV Ejercito who highlighted the need to end illegal activities hounding the production and distribution of rice across the archipelago.
“What needs to be done is [to] try to address smuggling, profiteering, cartels, and hoarding for the local agricultural industry to flourish and for the price of rice and other agri products to stabilize,” said Ejercito.
Senator Francis Tolentino, on the other hand, was all praise for Marcos’ order, claiming that this would benefit Filipino consumers.
“It is an appropriate response to control inflation as well as to ensure the affordability of rice and to safeguard food security. But in the long run, we should look at efforts to improve local rice production. I agree with the decision of the President as it will help stabilize the market in the short term to benefit the consumers,” said Tolentino.
Meanwhile, Senator Sonny Angara said he is hoping that the ceiling imposed will still incentivize farmers enough to maintain the rice supply in the market.