MANILA - It's "not possible" in the near future to lower the price of rice to P20 per kilo, incoming Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III said Thursday.
Outgoing Agrarian Reform chief Bernie Cruz earlier said the price of rice prices in the country can decline to P20 a kilo as early as second quarter of 2023 through a "mega farm" or consolidated production.
Estrella said he had a dialogue with fellow farmers who told him the farm gate price cannot be lower than P10.
"Di kaya eh, ang kaya P14. Pagdating sa miller, tapos retailers pwede tayo sa P28," he told ANC's Headstart.
(It can't be, the price can only go low as far as P14. When it arrives to millers and retailers, the price could be P28.)
"I don’t think it is [possible] In the very near future, it’s not possible. But you know how technology is."
Estrella, grandson of first Agrarian Reform chief Conrado F. Estrella Sr., said President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos offered him both the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
"I chose DAR and for the obvious reasons," he said. "We would like to be issuing titles under the presidency of President Bongbong Marcos."
Estrella said he would prioritize looking into the arrest of 91 farmers, land reform advocates, media, and students at Hacienda Tinang in Concepcion, Tarlac.
The farmers arrested were included in a list of beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
"If you prolong this, it might lead to violence we might not be able to control," he said.
"In some places, I was told some of the beneficiaries were not able to enter the lands assigned to them kasi may konting (because there's some) pressure from the original land owner, harassment and all sorts of things. We will look into so we could prevent incidents such as Hacienda Tinang."
In 2015, Estrella III was among the lawmakers charged for the pork barrel scam, which alleged that several legislators pocketed billions of taxpayers' money through bogus non-government organizations.
The lawmaker said the court has "nullified all documents pertaining to our case."
"Even Napoles herself, even Benhur (Luy) issued affidavits clearing us.
In the Ombudsman, I was told it’s already dismissed. it could already qualify more than enough for inordinate delay," he said.
"I wonder how we will be investigated if documents in this case have been nullified by the court."