Agri chief checks rice prices at Commonwealth market

Kevin Manalo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2019 01:13 PM

MANILA - Agriculture Secretary William Dar went to the Commonwealth Market in Quezon City Friday morning to inspect and monitor rice prices.

Dismayed at the high price of commercial rice in the market, Dar said he hopes to release 3.6 million bags of rice earlier imported by the National Food Authority (NFA).

“We are at Commonwealth Market, ngayon (now) we will flood all the markets in Metro Manila starting today and for the next one month para mailabas natin 'yung 3.6 million bags na nasa warehouses ng NFA (so we could release the 3.6 million bags that are in NFA warehouses) and with that, we will see to it na bababa po ang presyo sa mga merkado natin (that the prices in the market will go down),” Dar said.

Currently, commercial rice in Commonwealth Market ranges from P32 to P40 per kilo or higher depending on the quality.

Once the price of NFA rice gets lower, Dar projects it will affect the prices of commercial rice.

“And this is the start na people will be able to buy quality rice at P27. It will impact sa presyo sa merkado at bababa na rin. Without NFA may P30, P32. Sana makita natin in the future starting P27 hanggang P35, P37 ganun,” he said.

(It will impact the price in the market and it will get lower. Without NFA rice, prices are at P30, P32 per kilo. We hope to see in the future rice prices that start at P27, until P35, P37.)

Upon seeing the P27 per kilo NFA rice, a buyer immediately purchased 5 kilos

Edison Barizo, a construction worker who feeds a family of 5, said the P40 per kilo commercial rice was too expensive.

“Limang [kilograms] pang one week na ito! Bibili ka ng tig-P40 isang saing lang. Kaya dito natatangkilik ang tao dahil mura na masarap pa,” Barizo exclaimed.

(Five kilos of rice is for one week! If you buy the rice that is P40 per kilo, that's just for one meal. We buy this (NFA rice) because it's cheap but delicious.)

Dar went on to explain that there are groups possibly managing the supply of rice.

“I’m not using the word manipulating but they are managing the release. Of course kung nagmamanage sila ng supply sa merkado (if they are managing the supply in the market) there is some sort of hoarding,” he said.

To address this, Dar said they are closely working with other agencies such as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to monitor these alleged hoarding activities.

He said a task force is in the works and that they are looking at those who may have something to do with the alleged supply manipulation.