Marcos Jr sets P41, P45 price ceilings on rice nationwide

David Dizon and Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 01 2023 08:27 AM | Updated as of Sep 01 2023 03:26 PM

A market vendor waits for customers in front of their rice and grains store inside public market in Quezon City. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/file
A market vendor waits for customers in front of their rice and grains store inside public market in Quezon City. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA (UPDATE) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has approved the recommendation to impose mandated price ceilings on rice in the entire country following an alarming increase in its retail prices in the market. 

Under Executive Order No. 39 signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin on August 31, the mandated price ceiling for regular milled rice is P41 per kilo while the mandated price cap for well-milled rice is P45 per kilo. 

“The mandated price ceilings shall remain in full force and effect unless lifted by the President upon the recommendation of the Price Coordinating Council or the DA (Department of Agriculture) and the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry),” the order read. 

As of August 28, local regular milled rice in markets in the National Capital Region ranged from P42 to P55 per kilogram while local well-milled rice stood at P48 to P56 per kilo.

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In a chance interview with reporters in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Marcos urged the public to report to authorities retailers selling rice above the price ceiling. 

Monitoring rice prices in markets will be led by the DA, DTI, interior department, and the Department of Justice, said the President. 

Monitoring efforts will be focused in Metro Manila, he said, as price ceiling implementation "is not so bad outside" the capital region. 

"If it comes to that, I would encourage anyone who finds that someone or retailer is selling at above the price ceiling, i-report ninyo," he said. 

"I-report ninyo sa pulis, i-report niyo sa DA sa lugar ninyo, i-report niyo sa local government para matingnan namin at tiyakin na hindi lalampas doon sa presyo na ating nilagay," he added. 

The National Economic and Development Authority earlier said the rice inflation rate increased to 4.2 percent in July 2023 from 1 percent in January 2022 due to higher demand and tight supply, as other countries sought to beef up their supply in anticipation of El Niño. 

Marcos has directed the DA and DTI to ensure the strict implementation of the mandated price ceilings, monitor and investigate abnormal price movements of rice in the market, and provide assistance to affected retailers with the help of the Department of Interior and Local Government. 

The President has also directed the Philippine Competition Commission to implement measures against cartels or those abusing their dominant position in the market. 

The DA earlier said the rice supply for the second semester could reach 10.15 million metric tons, which would be enough to cover the current demand of 7.76 MMT.

Video from PTV​

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro said the administration should have acted sooner when rice prices started going up. 

Gabriela Party List Rep. Arlene Brosas added that the government should have immediately rolled out subsidies to rice farmers affected by typhoons and acted on alleged rice cartels with more urgency. 

While she agrees that the price cap is necessary, it could hurt small retailers, she said. 

"Ito ay desperate move to quell people’s frustration over his failure to deliver [on] his campaign promise. Kasi ang sabi niya P20 isang kilo ng bigas," Brosas said in an online press conference.

She added that the price ceiling "may do very little to curb hoarding and price manipulation by rice importers and syndicates."

Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel proposed to expand the National Food Authority's mandate to regulate rice supply and its retail price.

But House Speaker Martin Romualdez said the price ceiling "is a timely and necessary intervention to shield our fellow countrymen from the undue economic burden caused by unwarranted surges in rice prices." 

He said the House of Representatives would intensify its investigation into the alleged hoarding and price manipulation of rice and other basic agricultural products.

— With a report from Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News