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MANILA, Philippines – Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros is seeking a Senate probe into what she called the “uncoordinated and contradicting policies on rice regulation” of the Marcos government.
Hontiveros filed Senate Resolution No. 794 on Tuesday, September 12, calling for an investigation into President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s Executive Order No. 39 that imposed a price ceiling on regular milled and well-milled rice starting September 5, along with other government policies on rice regulation that appear to contradict each other.
“There is an evident lack of leadership, coordination, and cohesion in the country’s policies on rice regulation, to the risk and detriment of the people,” the resolution read.
The senator cited economists’ opposition to the stop-gap measure and the seeming lack of coordination among government ranks in light of the price cap. Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier admitted that the economic team was taken by surprise by EO 39 and that Marcos did not extensively consult them on the plan.
Hontiveros also cited the Department of Finance proposal to reduce rice import tariff rates to 0% “which would be disastrous to local farmers especially given the upcoming harvest season.” This, she said, would contradict the administration’s previous statements “bolstering the need for government-to-government importation of rice.”
“These extreme and conflicting policies are being thrown around, even as the National Food Authority has failed to utilize its P7-billion subsidy to maintain a sufficient rice buffer stock sourced solely from local farmers, as mandated by Republic Act No. 11203,” she said.
Aside from contentions within the government and the academe, rice retailers bemoaned the “hasty implementation” of the measure.
Under the law, the private sector can import rice subject to tariffs. The National Food Authority can only buy from local suppliers and is responsible for stocking up emergency buffer supply.
Marikina 2nd District Representative Stella Quimbo is pushing for a bill to authorize President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to declare a national rice emergency in the country. – Rappler.com