MANILA – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin ‘Benhur’ Abalos on Tuesday appealed to rice retailers and dealers to comply with the rice price ceiling to help ease consumers' burden.
The DILG chief made the call following an inspection at the Nepa Q-Mart and Savemore Supermarket in Cubao, Quezon City on Tuesday together with Mayor Joy Belmonte and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Assistant Secretary Agaton Uvero to check the compliance of rice retailers with the price ceiling set by Executive Order (EO) 39 -- PHP41 per kilogram for regular milled rice and PHP45 per kilogram for well milled rice.
Abalos said the government would compensate rice retailers to make up for the reduced prices that were previously out in the market.
He appealed to rice retailers to bear with the inconvenience for the meantime, noting that the rice price cap is only "temporary".
Abalos noted that the government is now making the necessary computation on how much aid should be provided to the rice dealers and retailers, adding that there is no timetable yet on how long the price ceiling will be in effect.
He said DILG will continue to launch a massive information drive to make the rice dealers and retailers aware of the rice price cap.
Abalos, meanwhile, said no arrests were made on retailers selling rice beyond the price ceiling.
“Ang target natin dito yung mga (rice) cartel. Sila talaga ang nagpapataas ng presyo ng bigas (Our target really here are the rice cartels. They are the ones causing the high cost of rice),’’ he said.
He also directed the Philippine National Police to extend assistance in the enforcement of EO 39.
PNP Public Information chief Col. Jean. Fajardo said the role of the PNP together with other law enforcement agencies will be to assist other departments in the form of law enforcement operations.
“Kung magsasagawa ng operations ang BOC (Bureau of Customs) and other agencies, the PNP will provide assistance, the PNP will extend police assistance kapag kailangan na arestuhin at file-an ng kaso (If the BOC and other agencies would conduct operations, the PNP would extend police assistance if there is a need to arrest violators and file cases against them),” Fajardo told reporters in a press briefing held at Camp Crame.
Also on Tuesday, the Department of Agriculture and the DTI simultaneously inspected 18 Metro Manila markets.
In a statement, DA said it is already preparing the assistance intended to affected retailers.
The DA and the DTI have also started to compile a list of rice traders and retailers who will be affected by the rice price ceiling.
The DA would also push for the inspection of warehouses to address concerns related to hoarding and illegal rice imports. (PNA)