Xhiela Mie Cruz

Monetary managers of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s administration have expressed support for the mandated rice price caps that he has implemented, asserting that it was a “necessary measure” for extraordinary circumstances.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Varcas/STAR/Ruffy Biazon/X (Twitter)

The price controls, which were set at ₱41 per kilogram for well-milled rice and ₱45 per kilogram for regular-milled rice, took effect on September 1, 2023.

"This will effectively serve as an 'active stop gap' to address the market's current circumstances," said Department of Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman.

However, many farmers are concerned that such price caps could significantly reduce their income, making it difficult for them to cover their production costs.

Gabriela Women’s party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas stated, “[Marcos] said he will bring down the price of rice per kilo to ₱20. It will primarily hurt small retailers who are merely at the receiving end of rice and farmgate prices due to costlier production inputs, but may do very little to curb hoarding and price manipulation by rice importers and syndicates.” 

Nevertheless, the government remains steadfast in its decision, arguing that the enforced control is a necessary action to prevent profiteering and protect consumers from exorbitant prices. They assured that they would take farmers' concerns into consideration and work towards a solution that benefits all parties involved.

“We understand and fully support the decision of the President because there really are market players who have been misbehaving. Unfortunately, there really are hoarders and speculators. We needed to act fast to effectively address this problem with a tit-for-tat strategy against unscrupulous traders, at least in the near-term,” Pangandaman added.

Recently, AGRI Party-list Rep. Wilbert Lee made headlines when he introduced House Bill No. 9020 or the “Cheaper Rice Act”. The proposed bill seeks to make the staple food more affordable for consumers through a subsidy program, benefitting 2.6 million rice farmers.

The Department of Agriculture, along with the Department of Trade and Industry and other relevant government agencies, will collaborate in creating the stated subsidy program; thus, providing farmers with a higher price point for their palay or rice, and ultimately encouraging them to increase production.

Edited by Khezyll Galvan