ALTHOUGH it caused a brief disruption in the availability of rice in the market, the implementation of his Executive Order (EO) No. 39, which imposed a price ceiling for rice, is “going well,” President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said Tuesday.
In an interview with reporters at the Department of Agrarian Reform in Quezon City, the chief executive admitted his new issuance prompted some rice retailers to defer selling their rice stocks.
Under EO 39, a price cap of P41 per kilogram (kg) was imposed for regular milled rice (RMR) and P45 per kg for well-milled rice (WMR) nationwide. The issuance will remain in effect until lifted by the President.
“Some of the retailers hesitated [to continue selling their rice stocks] since they were unsure of the assistance the government will provide them,” Marcos said in Filipino.
However, he noted that since the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) started distributing its P15,000 livelihood aid for the affected retailers last Saturday, many of them decided to resume selling their stocks.
“Those who deferred selling their rice started to resume their operation since they were assured they will get something [from the government] for selling at a loss under the price cap, which we implemented,” Marcos explained.
As of Tuesday afternoon, DSWD Secretary Rexlon “Rex” T. Gatchalian reported they were able to give P7.5-million livelihood aid to 474 rice retailers.
He said they are targeting to complete the distribution of the government aid to qualified retailers by September 14, 2023.
“The President instructed us to finish this at the soonest possible time. He likes the idea of finishing it by the 14th [of September], but we told him we would really want…we have applied for an exemption in the eventuality there are unforeseen circumstances that will cause some delay [in the distribution],” Gatchalian said.
In case they would have to go beyond their initial deadline for the distribution, he said they already sought the necessary permission from the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The election ban for the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) will take effect on October, 20, 2023, which will last until October 30, 2023, the election day.
During that period, the distribution of aid to individuals in crisis situations will be prohibited unless granted exemption by Comelec.
Citing data from the Department of Trade and Industry and the Securities and Exchange Commission, Gatchalian said around 5,900 rice retailers may qualify for the livelihood aid.
He said DSWD currently has over P5.3 billion in available budget for the said initiative.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes