House to summon traders, middlemen for next House probe

House to summon traders, middlemen for next House probe on rising prices

/ 07:29 PM April 29, 2024

Traders and middlemen, who were believe to be taking advantage of low farm gate prices, would be summoned for the next hearing of the House committee on trade and industry regarding skyrocketing costs of basic goods.

The House of Representatives. INQUIRER FILE

MANILA, Philippines — Traders and middlemen, who were believe to be taking advantage of low farm gate prices, would be summoned for the next hearing of the House committee on trade and industry regarding skyrocketing costs of basic goods.

In a press briefing on Monday afternoon, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said lawmakers are saddened that the Department of Agriculture (DA) has no immediate solution to cushion the rising prices of basic commodities, as shown in the committee hearing earlier.


However, Romualdez said what the House can offer is to continue the investigation into the huge discrepancy between farm gate and retail prices, or the price point of produce and goods when sold by farmers and growers compared to the actual price of these goods in stores and supermarkets.


“Here in the first hearing called by (Iloilo 4th District Rep. and) Chairman Ferj Biron, we are somewhat sad with the results because we saw in the inquiry that DA and DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) have no immediate solution here aside from their request of additional funding to create a buffer stock, [however], reaping the results of that would take time,” the Speaker said in Filipino.

“We would call the traders, the middlemen, ask them why there is a huge gap — the farm gate prices are low, but you are selling it with a huge difference.  So we will inquire why that is the case, and if they do not have a good explanation, if they are too greedy with profit, we will tell them to lower it or else people would suffer — and if that happens, someone would be held accountable,” he added.

Earlier, lawmakers from the said panel scolded the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) for not scrutinizing why market prices of basic goods like agricultural products increased despite low farm gate prices.

Lawmakers noticed that according to AMAS Director Junibert de Sagun’s presentation, there is a huge gap between farm gate and retail prices like in the case of ampalaya, which has a per kilogram farm gate price of P52.00 during the third week of of April — which is eventually sold at P120.00 at grocery stores.

Aside from that de Sagun also gave the following figures:

  • Sitaw: P45.50 per kilogram farm gate, P100.00 per kilogram retail
  • Pechay: P44.50 per kilogram farm gate, P80.00 per kilogram retail
  • Squash: P18.88 per kilogram farm gate, P50.00 per kilogram retail
  • Tomato: P25.56 per kilogram farm gate, P60.00 per kilogram retail
  • Cabbage: P30.75 per kilogram farm gate, P60.00 per kilogram retail

Surigao del Sur 1st District Rep. Romeo Momo said that even with margins from supermarkets, which were said to be around 8 percent to 10 percent of farm gate of actual prices, the jump from farm gate to retail price is so huge, hovering over 213 percent.


Romualdez said he has no problem about providing a higher budget to DA and other agencies to ensure that they are able to perform their mandates, but these may not be felt immediately by the public.

“So, we have to find more immediate or quicker solutions that will address this problem, right?  We need a long-term demand solution also; we have no problem if we need to allocate additional funding to the department budgets so that they can establish their buffer.  But we need an immediate, a more immediate solution that’s why we will take the bull by the horn as they will say,” he said.

During the briefing, suggestions to limit the price increase within middlemen to a certain percentage were also brought up, but Romualdez, Biron, and Deputy Majority Leader Erwin Tulfo admitted that the DA can only suggest and encourage, but not enforce.

“They can suggest actually. They cannot impose but they can suggest that only this margin should be workable,” Biron said.

“For now, nakikiusap tayo pero (we would try to plead with them but) we have the power to direct the DA or the DTI to use their powers for prosecution, as in Congress,” Tulfo added.

Romualdez said they will call the attention of the DA and DTI for a stricter enforcement of the Price Act — and eventually, after the hearings, make recommendations or initiate investigations if needed.

“We shall call their attention for a stricter enforcement of their policies and to enforce the price act. So that the end users will not fall prey to the very, very grossly large margins, and we will seek more enforcement on the part of the Executive,” he said.

“Because we in Congress, we legislate and we exercise oversight functions, so on our findings in these inquiries we can now make recommendations calling the attention of the responsible officials and personalities to take proper action and if not then you can imagine that Congress will use all its powers to make sure that this happens,” he added.

Last April 23, Tulfo and Romualdez sat with stakeholders from the farmer, grower, and retailer sectors, to discuss why prices are skyrocketing despite low farm gate prices.

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Aside from a probe, Romualdez also vowed that the House will review laws, if they are being implemented properly or if amendments have to be made.

TAGS: House, Prices

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