MANILA – Representatives of the agriculture, manufacturing and labor sectors on Monday welcomed Executive Order No. 39, which sets price ceilings on regular and well-milled rice, saying it will be a potent stop-gap solution to address surging inflation on the Filipino staple food.
In an interview, Danilo Fausto, president of the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI), said setting price caps on agricultural products can be an effective short-term response to unmitigated inflation in certain commodities.
“It’s (price controls) okay so long as it’s just temporary. But there is no substitute to increasing productivity,” he noted.
Fausto said the government can help stimulate greater rice productivity by promoting the use of high-yielding varieties as well as encouraging land consolidation to improve growers’ economies of scale.
He proposed that the Department of Agriculture (DA) spread out its interventions beyond the country’s traditional rice granary, made up of provinces within Central Luzon and Cagayan Valley, and distribute more assistance to the Soccsksargen, Bicol and Bangsamoro regions.
He added that “prolonged dependence on price ceilings to stabilize prices can also lead to stagnation of rice production.”
Jesus Arranza, chairman of the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), said the setting of price ceilings will immediately ease price pressures on rice to the benefit of consumers, even as he called it a “palliative solution.”
He said the long-term solution to the rice supply crisis is a combination of planting high-breed rice seeds – to enhance productivity and running after unscrupulous traders – to stop hoarding.
He said inflation is always tied to gaps in supply of a certain commodity.
“Two weeks ago we heard that some hoarders were caught. We are waiting to hear that charges have been filed against them. They (hoarders) will not stop until some of them are punished,” he said.
Arranza noted that thousands of sacks of rice recently confiscated from hoarders should be sold in Kadiwa stores at subsidized prices, so that consumers can have access to larger stocks of affordable rice.
Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) called on authorities to dismantle rice cartels and arrest rice hoarders.
TUCP vice president Luis Corral said the labor union has long urged the government to pursue an all-out anti-smuggling campaign for agricultural products, especially rice.
“We laud His Excellency President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. and House Speaker Martin Romualdez for leading from the front in inspecting each and every rice warehouse to thoroughly investigate and identify who these economic saboteurs are,” he noted.
“The first order of battle is to immediately go after these smugglers, cartels, and hoarders who have been ‘gaming’ the agricultural market and torturing our local farmers for all these years,” Corral said. (PNA)