By JON VIKTOR D. CABUENAS | GMA News Online
Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said he would recommend a price cap on rice and mandate government agencies to serve as middlemen in procurement of harvests if he is elected in May.
In an emailed statement, Marcos said a price cap would bring down prices of rice by P20 to P30 a kilogram.
Latest data available from the Department of Agriculture (DA) show that local commercial prices in Metro Manila range from P38 to P50 per kilogram, and imported commercial rice prices from P37.00 to P52.00 as of April 13, depending on the variety.
Marcos noted, however, that the country should have a “regular and thorough” inventory of rice harvests for this to be achieved.
This is already being conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), with production of palay (unmilled rice) estimated at P403.893 billion in 2021, up from P390.213 million in 2020.
Marcos also renewed his suggestion to amend the Rice Tariffication Law, which allows the unlimited importation of rice as long as private sector traders secure a phytosanitary permit from the Bureau of Plant Industry, and pay the 35% tariff for shipments from neighbors in Southeast Asia.
“Hindi natin kailangang mag-import ng bigas kung sapat naman ang supply ng ating magsasaka dahil ang dapat mas pinapalakas pa natin ang pagtanim at pag-ani ng ating mga palay,” Marcos said.
[We do not need to import if our supply is enough. We need to strengthen our planting and harvesting of palay.]
In the same statement, Marcos said he would also direct all concerned government agencies—including barangays and local government units—to serve as middlemen when the national government procures rice harvests from local farmers.
A number of presidential candidates already expressed their views that the Rice Tariffication Law should be reviewed or repealed, such as Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, labor leader Leody De Guzman, and Dr. Jose Montemayor. — BM, GMA News