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Rice retailers appeal to traders to lower rice prices

CALAMBA CITY, Laguna (PIA) — Several rice retailers have appealed to rice traders and the government for lower rice prices so they can sell it at prices mandated by Executive Order No. 39.

At the Lucena City Public Market, regular and well-milled rice prices still range from P52 to P55 as rice retailers could not fetch lower-priced rice from their suppliers.

"We will comply if we are able to acquire that kind of rice at such low prices. As retailers, our capital in rice is already high, so how can we sell it at such cheap prices," said Flor Magnaye, a rice retailer at Lucena City Public Market.

She also asked the government to allow them to consume their existing rice stocks to avoid losses from their invested capital.

"We are hoping that (rice supply with cheaper prices) will arrive soon… as retailers, it's difficult to explain to people when the news is already out that there is rice priced at P41 to P45 but we haven't received any at that low cost. If we sell at a low price but still suffer a big loss, what will happen to us," Magnaye explained.

Meanwhile, Mercy Natividad, a rice retailer in Bagong Pook Rosario, Batangas, said they are willing to sell even for a minimal profit margin if they can obtain lower-priced rice from the traders.

"(The price ceiling) will bring some positive effects if retailers can get rice at low prices. We just have to make a small profit and still comply with the order," Natividad said.

Lanie Taclino, a rice retailer from Calamba City, Laguna, said that while the mandated price ceiling would benefit consumers, she is concerned about potential losses for retailers.

"We support the President's efforts because it will help consumers. But how can we sell rice at P41 to P45 if the supplier's price is high. We hope that retailers like us can get low-priced rice so that we can sell it at the price set by the Executive Order," she added.

Regional agencies in Calabarzon have started monitoring rice retailers in public markets to ensure their compliance with the price ceiling set on rice.

Milo Delos Reyes, Department of Agriculture (DA) Director in Calabarzon, said a monitoring team composed of DA and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) representatives will conduct daily market monitoring to ensure rice retailers' compliance with Executive Order No. 39.

"We will visit selected public markets in the region every day to monitor the prices of well-milled and regular milled rice," said delos Reyes.

The regional agriculture chief added that the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the National Food Authority would also be part of the monitoring team to provide technical assistance.

Executive Order No. 39, signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin on August 31, set the price ceiling for regular milled rice at P41 per kilo and P45 per kilo for well-milled rice.

Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual had warned that those violating the price ceiling could face penalties of P5,000 to as high as P1 million under the Price Act. He said violators could also face imprisonment for not less than a year or more than ten years.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier assured assistance to rice retailers and traders who will be affected by the implementation of EO 39.

The President has also directed the Department of Social Welfare and Development, DTI and DA to expedite assistance to small rice retailers affected by the directive.

The President cited the need for government intervention to address the rising rice prices in the market, stressing that illegal activities of rice hoarders, cartels, and smugglers are affecting the economy and the Filipino people. (PIA-4A)

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