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SOCCSKSARGEN retailers compliant with rice price cap

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (PIA) -- The Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) 12 reported that retailers in almost all the cities of Soccsksargen are compliant with Executive Order No. 39, or the Imposition of Mandated Price Ceilings on Rice.

Andy Ango, chief of DA-RFO 12’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD), said that the local government units (LGU) in the region have complied almost immediately with the order upon its implementation on September 5.

"Most of the key cities are compliant and adherent to the Executive Order," said Ango, adding that most of them have already issued their own memorandum orders, adopting the EO 39 of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

Based on the Soccsksargen Bantay Bigas Task Force's price monitoring, Ango said that the rate of compliance is as follows: General Santos City leads with a 100% compliance rate, followed by Koronadal City at 90%, Tacurong City at 70%, and Kidapawan City at 20%.

The Soccsksargen Bantay Bigas Task Force led by the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) XII visits public markets in Soccsksargen to monitor the price of rice pursuant to the implementation of EO 39, otherwise known as the Imposition of Mandated Price Ceilings on Rice, which took effect on September 5, 2023. (Photo: DA-RFO 12’s Agri Tayo Soccsksargen Facebook page)

The Soccsksargen Bantay Bigas Task Force is a joint monitoring team composed of representatives from Department of Trade and Industry, Department of the Interior and Local Government, National Food Authority, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Plant Industry, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, and the city and provincial local governments, tasked to ensure the implementation of EO 39.

The EO aims to address the rising food prices in the country by imposing a much lower price on rice commodities, which are now sold at P41.00 per kilo for regular milled rice and P45.00 per kilo for well-milled rice.

The task force is also engaged in an information campaign aimed at educating rice retailers about the significance of EO 39, helping them understand the need to enforce such an order.

Ango emphasized that they have been continuously monitoring prices since the EO came into effect last Tuesday, while also anticipating the release of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) from the Central Office. This will provide them with clear guidelines regarding the specific penalties to be imposed on violators.

He noted that they are allowing other areas the opportunity to enhance their compliance, given that the implementation has only recently begun.

The General Santos City Local Price Coordinating Council (LPCC) holds a meeting with members and stakeholders to discuss the harmonization of data and profiling of rice sellers at the city public markets. The meeting was spearheaded by DTI General Santos caretaker Eddie de Asis (in blue shirt) and City Administrator Atty. Franklin Gacal (in a black jacket). (Photo: City Economic Management and Cooperative Development Office)

In the meantime, Eddie de Asis, the DTI General Santos City caretaker, mentioned that they initiated monitoring activities alongside other members of the Local Price Coordinating Council (LPCC) on Monday, and at present, the city is compliant with the regulations.

He also shared that they recently held a coordination meeting with the local government of General Santos City and other relevant government agencies "to harmonize the monitoring and profiling of rice sellers in the markets."

De Asis assured that they will conduct another round of price monitoring in the remaining markets in the city that have not been covered yet.

Meanwhile, General Santos City Administrator Atty. Franklin Gacal cautioned rice retailers in the city against defying government orders and appealed to them to adhere to Mayor Lorelie Pacquiao's Memorandum Order, which supports PBBM's Executive Order No. 39.

Gacal emphasized that some retailers have profited for the longest time by selling rice at higher prices. But now that EO No. 39 is being enforced, they should comply and reduce the price to P41/kg for regular milled rice and P45/kg for well-milled rice.

According to him, if during monitoring, these rice retailers fail to comply with the order or engage in hoarding, they will face appropriate penalties as stipulated by the law, even before the release of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

He also reiterated that, based on EO 39, "there’s no shortage of rice, either local or imported, so there’s no reason for the price of rice to increase." (CTA – PIA SarGen)

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Harlem Jude Ferolino

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