BAGUIO CITY – The Bantay Presyo on Rice Task Group composed of the Department of Agriculture-Cordillera (DA-CAR), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the National Food Authority (NFA) that acts as technical adviser in the region, noted the compliance of rice retailers in Baguio City to Executive Order (EO) 39 signed by President and Agriculture Secretary Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last August 31, 2023, imposing a price ceiling on regular and well-milled rice in the country.
On its first day of implementation on September 5, 2023, at the Baguio City Public Market, the Grain Retailers Confederation of the Philippines (GRECON) Baguio-Benguet President Nicholas Medrano explained that their organization’s compliance to the EO shows their support to the consumers by making available well-milled and regular milled rice in the market, aside from being penalized for non-compliance of the EO.
Well-milled rice (WMR) refers to rice kernel from which the hull, the germ, the outer bran layers, and the greater part of the inner bran layers have been removed but parts of the lengthwise streaks of the bran layers shall be less than 20% of the kernels. Regular milled rice (RMR), on the other hand, refers to rice grain from which the hull, the germ, the outer bran layers, and the greater part of the inner bran layers have been removed but parts of the lengthwise streaks of the bran layers may still be present on 15% to 40% of the sample grains.
“Our organization has decided to support the government’s measure to make the supply of regular and well-milled rice available to consumers. Although we have the supply of well-milled rice, we will have to sell this at P45 per kilo per day with a maximum of five kilos for every consumer to ensure that these will be available to the consuming public, which would last hopefully until the third week of September in time for the delivery of newly harvested regular and well-milled rice coming from rice-producing areas in nearby provinces,” Medrano said.
During the first day of monitoring, the task group noted a single stall selling regular milled rice. Medrano stated that the majority of the rice being milled by the millers now produces well-milled rice.
Under EO 39, the mandated price ceiling for regular milled rice is set at P41.00 per kilogram while the well-milled rice is capped at P45.00 per kilogram. Special rice such as Jasmine, Dinorado, Thai Jasmine, Japonica, glutinous, Indian, Pakistani Basmati, and other special rice are not covered by EO 39.
On the second day of EO implementation, the task group also recorded that some retailers in two satellite markets in Baguio City have yet to comply with the EO. Salient details of the EO were relayed for the retailers to be able to comply before the next visit of the task group.
Creation of the DA-CAR Bantay Presyo on Rice Team.
In accordance with the Executive Order, the DA-CAR has formally created its “Bantay Presyo on Rice” Team with Regional Technical Director for Operations Danilo P. Daguio as its team leader, OIC-Field Operations Division Chief Marlyn Tejero as the Assistant Team Leader.
Members of the Special Team consist of the following offices: the Agricultural Program Coordination Offices (APCO) in the six provinces and Baguio City, the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) as the secretariat, and the FOD together with its Rice Coordinating Unit.
The main function of the “Bantay Presyo on Rice” is to gather information on retailers and traders and coordinate with the municipal/city, and provincial agriculture offices on the prevailing prices of rice in the region, aside from monitoring the EO implementation in their areas of jurisdiction and the supply of RMR and WMR.
On Government subsidy
Aside from monitoring and gathering feedback from retailers on the effects of EO 39, the task group is also responsible for documenting the profile of small rice traders and retailers that will be affected by the price ceiling.
The government is looking for possible support that can be extended to small traders who may be losing profit after selling their rice supply within the price ceiling despite procuring these at higher prices.
The 200 members of GRECON and other small retailers in Baguio City, however, favor the awarding of government subsidies to farmers rather than small retailers and traders.
“We are encouraging the government to reconsider their plans of providing subsidies to small traders and retailers. It would be better if the subsidies will be given to the farmers since they bore most of the hardships in the production of rice. As retailers, we are contented on how much we earn from being retailers and it is just right that the farmers be the recipient of the subsidy,” Medrano added.