MANILA — The Department of Agriculture's (DA) recommendation on lifting the price ceiling for rice is up for President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.'s approval, an official said on Tuesday.
Favorable factors for ending the price cap include a drop in global prices of rice and an expected increase in supply due to the local harvest in the last quarter of the year, DA Bureau of Plant Industry Director Glenn Panganiban said.
"That is why we met [today] so that we can recommend and the President will be the one deciding on it," Panganiban told Palace reporters. "From our parameters naman ay mukhang ready na [to lift the price cap]. It is all upon the President to decide on it."
"Nabanggit natin na ang price cap ay temporary lang. It is done to really arrest yung increasing prices that time na defy the logic kasi mayroon tayong supply. So ang atin lang, this is what the President wants, is to really have a stable supply and that will translate to stable prices in the market," he said.
Marcos had blamed the rising cost of rice on illegal importers, smugglers and hoarders. He then issued Executive Order 39 mandating a price ceiling of P41 for regular milled rice and P45 for well-milled rice.
Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual noted that the prices of special and premium rice, which are not covered by the cap, have started to go down due to the harvest season.
“The elements that we need to see, yung indicators are there, that will point to possible lifting of the ceiling,” he said.
The Philippines is expected to harvest 1.9 million metric tons of rice in October alone.
DA's Panganiban said he could not give a timeline yet on the possible lifting of the price cap.
"There are other indicators that may be considered so let us just wait for this decision," he said. "We are updating the Office of the President almost every day para naman mas maging dynamic at mas maging mabilis kung mayroon mang decision na kailangang gawin."
Some lawmakers have warned the rice price ceiling would be "useless" if the government continues to import and fails to stop cartels.
Rice is a basic staple in the Philippines, which cannot produce enough for itself and has been one of the world's top importers of the grain.
— With reports from Agence France-Presse; Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News