MANILA (UPDATE)— President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Thursday said his administration was nearing its goal of lowering the prices of rice to P20 per kilo.
At the launch of the “Kadiwa ng Pangulo” in Pili, Camarines Sur, Marcos said Kadiwa stalls helped provide consumers cheaper vegetables and other farm goods by bringing them directly to buyers instead of relying on middlemen.
The Kadiwa market in Camarines Sur offers National Food Authority (NFA) rice at P25 per kilo.
"Makikita ninyo iyong bigas, ang aking pangarap na sinabi na bago ako umupo na sana maipababa natin ang presyo ng bigas ng P20. Hindi pa tayo umaabot doon. Dahan-dahan palapit, nasa P25 na lang tayo. Kaunti na lang, maibababa na natin yan," the President said during his speech.
(Before I was elected, I said my dream was to lower the price of rice to P20. We have not yet reached that. We are slowly getting there. We're now at P25. Just a little more, we'll get there.)
When asked on how soon his administration could offer rice at P20 per kilo, Marcos said they aimed to achieve this "as soon as possible" though the situation would depend on the weather.
"Lahat' yan (all of it are) ASAP. I don't know, we'll see," Marcos said in a chance interview.
"Kasi mayroong, minamalas tayo sa weather eh so hindi mo matiyak kung ano ang magiging production, kung ano ang magiging supply. So tingnan natin. Pababa nang pababa. We'll keep working," he said.
(Sometimes we are not so lucky with the weather so we are not really sure of the production and how this could affect the supply. Let us see. The price is continuously going down.)
Based on the Department of Agriculture's monitoring as of March 15, the lowest price of local rice is at P33 per kilo in Metro Manila, while the cheapest imported rice is at P37 a kilo.
Some Kadiwa stalls sell rice at as low as P20 per kilo because the government shoulders transportation cost, among other fees.
Marcos said more Kadiwa stores would be opened to help Filipinos cope with the rising cost of food and help small businesses.
"Magtatayo [tayo] ng palengke para maipagbili ng mas mababang presyo ang ating mga agricultural products, ang ating mga finished products. Lahat po ‘yan ay binibigyan din natin ng pagkakataon ‘yung mga maliliit na negosyo sa bawat lugar kung saan ‘yung Kadiwa para mayroon silang lugar para ipagbili ang kanilang mga produkto," he said.
(We will open more markets so that our agricultural products could be sold at a lower price. This will also give small business to sell their products at the Kadiwa.)
"At 63 percent, almost 65 percent ng ating mga – ng ating employee ay employee ng MSME... Kaya naman ‘yun ang aming tinutukan at binigyan namin ng atensyon ang ating mga MSMEs. Kaya’t ito ang kanilang pagkakataon," he added.
(Almost 63, 65 percent of our employees work for MSMEs. This is why we are giving attention to MSMEs. This is their chance.)
Marcos also led back-to-back groundbreaking ceremonies for housing projects in Naga City, the stronghold of his closest 2022 presidential race rival, former Vice President Leni Robredo.
The social housing in Naga's Panganiban Drive will have 11,800 units in 5 towers, while 7 mid-rise buildings with 1,200 housing units will be built in Barangay Balatas, he said.
In launching the projects under the Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino Housing (4PH), Marcos said having a home should be a right instead of a privilege.
"Ito po ang problemang hinaharap ng ating mga kababayan," he said.
"Kaya naman ay mahirap natin hingiin sa kanila ang tulong ng ating mga kababayan para sa pagpaganda ng buhay, pagpaganda ng ekonomiya kapag naman sila ay walang magandang tahanan na nauuwian kung saan sila makapagpahinga, kung saan sila makapiling nila ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay."
(This is the problem of our compatriots. It is difficult for us to ask their help in improving their lives, the economy when they don't even have homes where they can rest and be with their loved ones.)
The housing project in Naga will include commercial buildings around the residential towers, which Marcos said could "provide relief" to locals.
The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) aims to create 6 million housing units by the end of Marcos' presidency or 1 million units annually.
AID TO FARMERS
Marcos will also distribute some P826.1 million worth of aid to farmers in Naga City.
This includes nearly P585 million worth of fertilizer discount vouchers and almost P68 million worth of cash aid to farmers.
A total of 121,658 farmers will receive fertilizer vouchers, while 13,529 rice growers will get P5,000 each, according to the Department of Agriculture.
Marcos will also turn over P164.2 million worth of farm equipment, including rice combine harvesters, transplanters, dryers, and rice mills to 35 farmers cooperatives and associations.
During his visit, Marcos was declared Camarines Sur's "adopted son" in a resolution passed by its provincial board.
— With a report from Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News