RICE AID BENEFICIARIES. The 63 micro rice retailers in Negros Oriental who each received PHP15,000 in emergency relief subsidy from the Department of Social Welfare and Development 7 (Central Visayas) during a ceremony at the convention center in Dumaguete City on Thursday afternoon (Sept. 14, 2023). The aid is to alleviate their losses while adjusting their selling prices for regular milled and well-milled rice in compliance with Executive Order 39. (PNA photo by Judy Flores Partlow)

DUMAGUETE CITY – Negros Oriental topped the entire Central Visayas region as having the most number of micro rice retailers who have complied with the rice price cap being implemented by the national government and have received cash assistance from the social welfare department.

A total of 63 micro rice retailers from across the province each received their PHP15,000 cash assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 (Central Visayas) during a ceremony at the convention center here Thursday afternoon.

DSWD-7 Director Shalaine Lucero said PHP945,000 in Emergency Relief Subsidy under the department’s Sustainable Livelihood Program was given to the beneficiaries.

“There are a total of 63 beneficiaries from Negros Oriental and we have the highest in Region 7 who have complied. So let’s give ourselves a big hand,” said Lucero, who hails from this province.

“This is a one-time cash assistance to help these micro rice retailers recover from losses incurred with the implementation of the price cap and they have been profiled earlier with the help of the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) to validate their qualification,” she said.

Of the 63 rice dealers who received the subsidy, 17 were from Dumaguete City; 12 from Canlaon City; 9 from La Libertad; 5 from Tayasan; 4 each for the towns of Bindoy and Bais, and Tanjay City; 3 from Guihulngan; 2 from Sibulan; and 1 each from Bayawan, Ayungon, and Siaton.

The distribution of the cash payouts for micro-retailers was also held simultaneously in Cebu with 17 beneficiaries, Bohol with 6, and Siquijor with 1.

Undersecretary Terence Calatrava of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, who dropped by Negros Oriental briefly for the event, lauded Negros Oriental for heeding the President’s call to adjust the prices of regular milled rice to PHP41 per kg. and well-milled rice to PHP45 per kg.
, as mandated under Executive Order (EO) 39.

In his keynote speech, Calatrava said through this program, the President “would like to assure every Filipino that under this administration, the government will exercise the truest of its power to give social justice to everyone.”

Governor Manuel Sagarbarria, meanwhile, thanked President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for helping alleviate the plight of the micro rice retailers in the province.

Sagarbarria noted that the compliance of micro rice retailers in Negros Oriental to the mandated price cap shows that the constituents are “buotan (good) and mutuo sa balaod (obedient to the law).”

He said the issuance of EO 39 came at the right time, just a day before his administration was to purchase PHP20 million worth of rice for assistance to the indigents, which he said would be a big help to the provincial government.

Thankful

Two micro rice retailers who received the emergency relief assistance thanked the President for the aid.

Fe Colina Cornelio from Tanjay City, a rice retailer at the city public market for the past 20 years, said she incurred losses of about PHP10,000 after the price cap implementation.

Cornelio said without hesitation, she immediately adjusted the prices of her regular milled rice to the mandated PHP41 per kg. and well-milled rice to PHP45 per kg.

The assistance she received will help her keep up with her small business until rice prices become stable again, she added.

Bernard Bonganciso, a former government teacher who shifted to rice retailing this year after a few years of working overseas, said he was disheartened after hearing about the price cap implementation.

Bonganciso recalled that in May, he purchased several sacks of rice to start his own business using the little savings he had from his overseas job, but came the announcement of the price ceiling.

He said he almost gave up on his business but was overjoyed when he learned of the government’s rice subsidy to help micro retailers like him cope with the setbacks brought about by EO 39. (PNA)