MANILA – Small rice retailers in Marikina City on Wednesday thanked the national government for a “much needed” PHP15,000 subsidy that would help them lessen the impact of the temporary rice price caps.
“Malaking bagay po ito. Pangdagdag po sa puhunan kasi mataas po talaga masyado puhunan ngayon sa bigas. Saka mabuti na nga lang po at meron kaagad ganitong programa ng subsidy kasi kailangang-kailangan namin ito (This is a big help. Additional capital because the current capital is really high. It’s good that there is such kind of program because we really need it,” Joel De Mesa, a small rice retailer, said after receiving the cash aid.
De Mesa admitted that initially, he felt frustrated when the mandated price ceilings of PHP41 per kg for regular milled and PHP45 per kg for well-milled rice were imposed on Sept. 5 to avert the surge of rice prices.
He said the cash subsidy is a big help for small rice retailers like him.
“Siguro yung iba na may malalaking puhunan posibleng kontra, pero sa akin, okay po ito kasi maliit lang po ang puhunan ko at sabi ko nga po, malaking tulong sa akin ito (Perhaps for others who have big capital, they are against it, but for me, this is okay because I have small capital and this subsidy will help me a lot),” De Mesa said.
“Saludo po ako sa programang ito at nagpapasalamat po ako sa mga kinauukulan (I salute this program and we are thankful to the authorities),” he added.
For his part, Josie Alcober, a rice retailer from Barangay Parang, also commended the government, particularly the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for distributing cash assistance through its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).
“Syempre napalaking bagay sa gaya ko ito. Bale 10 sako ng 25 kilos na bigas ang kayang bilhin nito dagdag sa puhunan (Of course, this cash assistance a big help for small rice retailers like me. It can buy 10 sacks of 25 kg rice and additional capital),” she said.
Alcober, who grew up in a family with a two-hectare rice farm in Visayas, said she is hoping for a price that would not have an impact both on farmers and consumers.
“Pero syempre, sana na lang ay maiayos nang lahat ang problema at para maging masaya ang lahat pati mga magsasaka (But of course, I only wish that all the problems be fixed for everyone to be happy, including the farmers),” she said.
House Committee on Appropriations Vice Chair and Marikina 2nd District Rep. Estella Quimbo hosted the distribution of cash assistance in Marikina.
Some 300 target beneficiaries received the DSWD-SLP cash aid at the Civic Center in Concepcion Dos Barangay Hall in Marikina City.
Meanwhile, DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian on Wednesday discussed with representatives of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) the possibility of expanding the SLP-Cash Assistance for Micro Rice Retailers at the DSWD Central Office.
Gatchalian, DTI Undersecretary Carol Sanchez and DILG Undersecretary Marlo Iringan tackled ways to operationalize the directive of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to also focus on the payout for micro retailers who have missed their payout schedules as well as to sari-sari store owners selling rice who are on the DTI list.
The three agencies agreed to concentrate on their respective roles in which the DTI will continue to produce a clean list of recipients based on the database of the Business Permit and Licensing Offices (BPLO) of local government units (LGUs).
The DILG, in partnership with LGUs, will handle the logistics including information dissemination to beneficiaries on the payout dates while the DSWD would continue conducting the payout activities.
“These things would help ensure the smooth implementation of the cash aid distribution,” Gatchalian said.
The agencies also agreed that simultaneous nationwide payouts will be conducted from Sept. 15 onwards with Sept. 29 as the possible last day of SLP cash aid distribution. (PNA)