MANILA – Speaker Martin Romualdez on Tuesday lauded Sugbo Merkadong Barato (Cebu’s Cheap Market) program as a "revolutionary" initiative that deserves replication across the country for offering quality rice at an unprecedented price of PHP20 per kilo.
During his speech at the program's launch at Talisay City Hall, Romualdez said the initiative was made possible under the visionary leadership of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., adding that it "signifies a pivotal step towards achieving food security and economic resilience for the nation."
One of Marcos' campaign promises is to bring down the price of rice to PHP20 per kilo.
“Tunay po na makasaysayan ang araw na ito para sa bansang Pilipinas. Ngayong araw, napatunayan ng mga Sugbuanon na hindi imposibleng makamit ang pangarap na magkaroon sa merkado ng de-kalidad na bigas sa halagang 20 pesos bawat kilo (This day is truly historical for the Philippines. On this day, the Sugbuanon people have proven that it is not impossible to achieve a goal of having a market selling quality rice at the price of PHP20 per kilo),” Romualdez said.
He said the achievement of providing quality rice at the unprecedented price of PHP20 per kilo demonstrates the determination of the Sugbuanon people to overcome challenges and find innovative solutions to address the impact of global inflation on essential commodities.
"Rather than curse in the dark, people of Cebu chose to rise to the challenge and seek innovative ways to address the high prices of rice and other basic goods brought by global inflation," he said.
He also thanked the leaders of Cebu province, especially Governor Gwen Garcia, for their exemplary leadership in implementing innovative solutions.
"These programs are not just about providing rice at lower prices; they are about empowering our communities, particularly our women, farmers, fisherfolks, and micro-entrepreneurs," he said.
He highlighted the Bugasan sa Kababayen-an sa Barangay initiative as an example of community-driven approach to economic challenges, empowering women's organizations with an initial capital of rice sacks.
He also cited collaborative governance that is demonstrated by the localization of Kadiwa ng Pangulo and the Sugbo Merkadong Barato, which ensure affordable basic commodities for all.
He lauded the provincial government for its willingness to absorb losses to ensure affordability, saying it "speaks volumes about its commitment to the welfare of the Sugbuanons."
He, meanwhile, acknowledged the crucial support of government departments, particularly the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Labor and Employment.
"As we launch the Sugbo Merkadong Barato today, let us remember that this initiative is more than just about providing affordable rice. It is about building a stronger, more self-reliant Cebu and, by extension, a stronger Philippines," Romualdez said. (With a report from John Rey Saavedra PNA)