In photo: DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos together with DTI Assistant Secretary Agaton Uvero and Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte

Following the effectiveness of Executive Order No. 39 s. 2023 today, 5 September 2023, which sets price ceiling for regular-milled rice at PHP41.00/kilogram and well-milled rice at PHP45.00/kilogram, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) led the joint monitoring of compliance with the imposed rice price ceiling.

Together with DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos, the price monitoring team composed of DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban, DTI Assistant Secretary Agaton Uvero, and DTI-Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) Director Atty. Fhillip Sawali undertook the joint monitoring of rice prices initially in San Juan and Quezon City today. Acknowledging the crucial role of LGUs in the efficient implementation of E.O. No. 39, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte and San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora also joined the team, which surveyed wet markets and supermarkets.

A strong market visibility established through the presence of the inter-agency price monitoring team encourages rice retailers to support the implementation of E.O. No. 39. The team is also able to explain objectives of the EO — that the price cap is only a temporary measure to mitigate the rising prices of rice in the market. As mentioned by Secretary Abalos, the price of rice is likely to go down as harvesting season approaches and rice imports come.

In response to concerns raised by retailers, Secretary Abalos said, “Huwag silang mag-alala, nauunawaan ng ating Pangulo ‘yan at may programa para dito. Nandito ang ating DTI at DA, ipinapalista lahat ng retailers.”

“May programa para rito at ito ay binalangkas. Bago siya [President Marcos Jr.] umalis, ito ay mahigpit niyang bilin sa amin. Kaya sa programang ito, everyone will be taken care of. Parang ama natin siya, kita niya na dapat tuluy-tuloy ang supply ng bigas na dapat maganda ang presyo. At the same time, nauunawaan niya ang kalagayan ng mga bumili ng mahal. Asahan ninyo po tinap niya ang DSWD para rito,” Secretary Abalos added.

DILG also committed to enlisting the cooperation of mayors from Metro Manila and market masters/administrators in enforcing the mandatory price ceiling on rice. Further, DA ensured close coordination with DTI in monitoring rice prices and enforcing the imposed price cap; and with Bureau of Customs (BOC) in stabilizing the supply of rice.

Meanwhile, DTI Secretary Fred Pascual said in a message that, “Nakahanda po kami sa DTI na tulungan ang mga retailers base sa mga programang binabalangkas ng pamahalaan.”

He likewise encouraged retailers to work collaboratively with the Philippine government to address the issue and ensure the availability and affordability of rice across the country.

Further, Assistant Secretary Uvero shared during the interview earlier, ‘Yung DTI together with DA as we start today, kinukolekta lahat ng mga listahan ng mga retailers at ipapasa natin sa DSWD para magbigay ng ayuda ‘yung gobyerno. Ganoon ‘yung magiging direksyon natin. So, on the first day, information campaign tayo, ‘yung pagkalap ng mga impormasyon tungkol sa mga retailers at mga problema nila.

Apart from market visits and profiling, the special task force on the implementation of E.O. No. 39 is also set to visit warehouses in various locations to ensure adequate supply of rice and discourage hoarding among retailers and traders.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte also assured the public that financial aid shall be given by the QC LGU to retailers on top of the assistance that will be given by the national government. In the coming days, the monitoring team will continue visiting wet markets and supermarkets on a day-to-day basis to ensure compliance with the price ceilings of regular- and well-milled rice.