Duterte warns rice hoarders, cartels

By Leslie Gatpolintan

July 24, 2018, 7:42 am

<p>President Rodrigo R. Duterte <em>(Presidential Photo)</em></p>

President Rodrigo R. Duterte (Presidential Photo)

MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday issued a stern warning against rice traders engaged in hoarding and cartel operations, who are being blamed for the artificial rice shortage that leads to high rice prices.

“I now ask all the rice hoarders, cartels and their protectors, you know that I know who you are: stop messing with the people. Power sometimes is not a good thing. But I hope I will not have to use it against you," Duterte said during his third State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) delivered before Congress.

“Consider yourselves warned; mend your ways now or the full force of the State shall be brought to bear upon you,” he said.

The Chief Executive directed all intelligence agencies to unmask the perpetrators of this “economic sabotage” and for law enforcement agencies to bring them to justice.

To lower the price of rice, President Duterte underscored the need for the country to switch from the current quota system in importing rice to a tariff system where rice can be imported more freely.

“This will give us additional resources for our farmers, reduce the price of rice by up to 7 pesos per kilo, and lower inflation significantly. I ask Congress to prioritize this crucial reform, which I have certified as urgent today,” he said, referring to the rice tariffication bill. (PNA)