President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has approved the recommendation to impose mandated price ceilings on rice in the whole country to ensure reasonably priced and conveniently accessible staple food to Filipinos amid the alarming increase in its retail prices in the market.
Executive Order No. 39 signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin on August 31, stated that President Marcos approved the joint recommendation of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade of Industry (DTI) to set price ceilings on rice in the country.
It was also issued following the sectoral meeting on August 29, where President Marcos was briefed about the status of government initiatives to ensure sufficient rice supply in the country.
Under EO 39, the mandated price ceiling for regular milled rice is PhP41.00 per kilogram while the mandated price cap for well-milled rice is PhP45.00 per kilogram.
“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 and the DTI,” the executive order, which will take effect immediately upon publication in the Official Gazette, or in a newspaper of general circulation, stated.
The recommendation of the DA and the DTI to impose price ceilings on rice stemmed from the current surge in retail prices of rice in the country, which resulted in a considerable economic strain on Filipinos, particularly the underprivileged and marginalized.
During the sectoral meeting, the DA reported its projection that rice supply for the second semester would reach 10.15 million metric tons (MMT), 2.53 MMT of which is ending stock from the first semester while 7.20 MMT is the expected yield from local production and only 0.41 MMT is imported rice.
The total supply would be more than enough to cover the current demand of 7.76 MMT and will yield an ending stock of 2.39 MM that will last up to 64 days.
Based on the projection, EO 39 stated the DA and the DTI “have reported that the country’s rice supplies have reached a stable level and are sufficient owing to the arrival of rice imports and expected surplus on local production.”
The EO, however, noted that “despite steady supply of rice, the DA and DTI have also reported widespread practice of alleged illegal price manipulation, such as hoarding by opportunistic traders and collusion among industry cartels in light of the lean season, as well as global events taking place beyond the Philippines’ control, such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict, India’s ban on rice exportation, and the unpredictability of oil prices in the world market, among other factors, have caused an alarming increase in the retail prices of this basic commodity.”
As of Aug. 28, the DA reported the local regular milled rice in markets in the National Capital Region (NCR) ranged from PhP42.00 per kilogram to PhP55.00 per kilogram while local well-milled rice stood at PhP48.00 per kilogram to PhP56.00 per kilogram.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) also reported the rice inflation rate increased from 1.0% in January 2022 to 4.2% in July 2023, which could be attributed to the rising demand and tight supply due to, among others, efforts of other countries to buffer their supply in anticipation of El Niño and the above-mentioned international developments.
President Marcos has directed the DTI and the DA 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 (DILG).
The chief executive also directed the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to intensify its ongoing inspections and raids of rice warehouses to combat hoarding and illegal importation of rice in the country and facilitate the confiscation, seizure, or forfeiture of smuggled rice as may be warranted by law with the help of the DA.
The DA will share with the BOC relevant information such as the inventory of rice stocks, the list of accredited rice importers, and the location of rice warehouses.
Just last week, the BOC raided and closed three warehouses in Bulacan, which stored alleged imported rice worth more than Php500 million.
The President has also directed the Philippine Competition Commission, in coordination with the DA and the DTI, to implement measures against cartels or those abusing their dominant position in the market to ensure fair market competition and uphold consumer welfare and protection.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement agencies are also mandated to render necessary assistance to the DTI and the DA to ensure the immediate and effective enforcement of the price ceilings on rice in the country.
Under Section 7 of the Republic Act No. 7581, the President, upon the recommendation of the implementing agency, or the Price Coordinating Council, may impose a price ceiling on any basic necessity or prime commodity in compliance with the conditions set by the law.
RA 7581, or the Price Act was enacted in 1992, allowing the state to provide effective and sufficient protection to consumers against hoarding, profiteering and cartels. PND