Workers unload sacks of rice from a Vietnam cargo ship carrying some 12,700 tons of rice, at the port in Manila on Saturday. Photo by Romeo Ranoco, Reuters
MANILA -- Malacanang expects the easing of rice supplies in the market amid the police’s continued crackdown of hoarders and cartels.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) padlocked over the weekend three cellars in Malolos, Bulacan that allegedly violated laws against hoarding.
Cases are expected to proceed since complaints were already lodged at the prosecutor’s office, he said.
“Ayon sa ulat ni NFA (National Food Authority) Administrator Arthur Juan, mula lamang sa tatlong bodega na siniyasat, may natagpuang 80,076 na bags ng bigas na kung tig-50 kilo ang laman, may kabuuang humigit-kumulang 4,000 metrikong toneladang bigas na irerekomendang kumpiskahin,” he said.
Coloma said Juan has already asked the NFA Bulacan provincial manager and the NFA Region 3 director to explain how the sacks of NFA rice fell into the hands of private individuals.
Coloma also said commercial rice prices will ease by P3 per kilo starting Sunday here in Metro Manila, specifically in the CAMANAVA areas.
“We already expect the easing of supplies in the market,” he said, adding that the crackdown also shows the government’s efforts to protect consumers from the artificial increase in prices of basic commodities.
Flour, milk prices
He promised the Department of Trade and Industry and other government agencies are on top of the situation.
Meanwhile, Malacanang expects prices of flour to remain stable.
“Ayon sa DTI, walang naging pagbabago sa presyo ng harina at wala ring inaasahang magiging pagtaas sa mga susunod na araw. Bungan ito, nangako ang mga panadero na wala ring magiging pagtaas sa presyo ng tinapay tulad ng Pinoy Pandesal at Pinoy Tasty,” Coloma said.
Milk prices, on the other hand, saw an increase because of world market events.
“Samantala, nagkaroon ng bahagyang pagtaas sa halaga ng processed na gatas bunga ng pag-akyat din ng presyo sa pandaigdigang pamilihan ng skimmed milk at whole powdered milk na siyang mga pangunahing sangkap sa paggawa ng evaporated, condensed, at powdered na gatas. Ngunit ang pagtaas na ito ay nilimitahan lamang sa pagitan ng 40 sentimos hanggang P4.30 sa kabila ng hiling ng mga gumagawa ng mga naturang produkto na itaas ang suggested retail price (SRP),” he said.
As far as canned products and bottled water are concerned, the DTI has dismissed requests to jack up prices.
“Sa mga produktong pang-agrikultura naman, walang naitalang pagbabago sa halaga ng itlog, asukal, manok, mantika, baboy, at maging NFA rice. Sa datos ng DTI, ang mga presyo nitong nakaraang linggo ay nanatili sa dating lebel,” Colima said.
President Benigno Aquino III earlier called for an investigation into the hoarding, profiteering, and other cartel-like activities affecting prices of commodities.
Aquino believes there is no shortage on rice, garlic, and other farm products, saying there could be people manipulating the prices.