MANILA (UPDATE)— President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Saturday said the price control on rice might be reduced as palay harvests begin in the country.
Marcos — who concurrently holds the agriculture portfolio — noted that market forces would be at work due to the new rice harvests, pulling down the cost of the staple Filipino commodity.
"Sa palagay ko, pagpasok ng ani, dahil papasok na, nag-aani na tayo, baka 'yung merkado mismo ang magpababa ng presyo ay puwede naman nating bawasan 'yung mga control na nilagay natin," the President told reporters in a chance interview.
Asked however how rice prices could be reduced without affecting any sector, the President said it was "impossible."
"Kaya yan ang inuuna natin, hindi natin kayang gawin yung gusto nating gawin kung hindi tayo mag-aayos ng ating agrikultura," he said.
The Philippines is expected to harvest 2 million metric tons (MMT) of palay by the end of the month and 3 million MMT in October, Press Secretary Cheloy Garafil has said, citing data from the Philippine Rice Information System.
RICE SUPPLY ENOUGH
In a speech at the rice distribution there, Marcos reiterated that the country's rice supply is enough but acknowledged that the distribution system remained problematic.
"Kaya’t hindi problema ang supply sa atin dito sa Pilipinas. Sabi ng Department of Agriculture ay mas malaki ang ani natin ngayon taon na ito kaysa sa nakaraan kaya’t sa production side naman ay nagiging maayos," he said.
"Pero ang dami pa rin kulang, ang dami pa rin kulang sa pag-distribute. Marami naman tayong bigas hindi lang nailalabas nang tama," he added.
He vowed that solutions to some of the distribution issues were underway, which covers the planting period, research and development, processing, distribution, marketing, and retail.
"Kaya’t ginagawa po natin ay binubuo natin lahat ‘yan. Sana naman sa lalong madaling panahon ay makikita na natin at mararamdaman na natin ‘yung pagbabago na ‘yan na pinag-uusapan natin," he said.
Marcos earlier this week defended his controversial order mandating a price cap on two rice types, saying this would help the public afford the staple commodity despite its soaring cost because of the El Niño.
Executive Order No. 39 mandates a P41 price ceiling for regular milled rice, and P45 for well-milled rice.
Marcos also set the new price range of unmilled prices, supposedly to give Filipino farmers "better income."
• Dry - P19 to P23
• Wet - P16 to P19