MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines might just be “lucky” come Christmas time and see price adjustments, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said, even as his “dream” of rice selling at P20/kilo remains just that – a pipe dream.
Marcos made the statement on Tuesday, November 29, during his visit to the International Rice Research Institute headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna. The President was asked what would be his “Christmas gift” to Filipinos since his campaign promise of rice costing only P20/kilo remained unfulfilled.
“The 20 pesos [per kilo cost of rice] was really the goal. The dream is paabutin natin ng (for it to reach) 20 pesos. We are trying to do – we are continuing with the transfer payments that we have begun with… we did – we are going to widen the scope of the Kadiwa,” said Marcos, referring to a government-run program that reduces the distribution gap between producers and consumers.
“Kadiwa ng Pasko,” launched by the current Marcos administration, is a holiday farmers market that gives producers a platform to sell their wares in different areas around the country. The Kadiwa program is a revival of a project first implemented under the administration of the incumbent president’s father and namesake, the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos. Kadiwa was later recycled during the time of President Joseph Estrada, who was also deposed from office.
The current iteration of Kadiwa is both local and national. “I’m hoping that we can – we will see some adjustment in prices for Christmas and it looks like baka naman swertehin tayo (we might just get lucky),” he said.
And while he was asked about the price of rice, Marcos went on to highlight another issue: the price of fuel. “‘Yung worry ko lang itong nangyari sa – ‘yung TRO na binigay ng CA doon sa PSA ng San Miguel at saka Meralco. ‘Yun ang worry ko. ‘Yun ang inaano namin ngayon, ‘yun ang talagang tinatrabaho namin ngayon na hindi tumaas ang fuel. Not this – at least not for Christmas man lang,” he added.
(My worry is the temporary restraining order that the Court of Appeals granted on the PSA between San Miguel and Meralco. That’s my worry. What we’re working on now is making sure that fuel prices do not rise. At least not during Christmas.)
The price of rice and the wellbeing of Filipino farmers is not just Marcos’ concern as president. He is also concurrent chief of the agriculture department.
Asked if he would appoint a full-time agriculture secretary – a plea critics and allies alike have made – Marcos said he has a “timetable” he wants to follow before he picks a full-time chief.
“There are certain things that I would like to achieve before leaving the department. So hindi pa tayo nandoon. But of course, maraming lumalabas na pangalan. Tuloy-tuloy ang pagtingin namin, pag-ano. So hopefully by the time na ‘yung checklist ko natapos na, mayroon na tayong puwedeng i-nominate na DA,” he said, without elaborating on what was in that checklist.
(We aren’t there yet. Of course, many names are being floated around. We continue to scrutinize the names on that list. So hopefully by the time that we’ve ticked everything off that checklist, we have someone to nominate for Secretary of Agriculture.)
Food security is an issue Marcos has repeatedly emphasized – both domestically and before regional forums from Cambodia to Thailand. Yet, food prices remain high.
The price of rice, in particular, is far from P20/kilo. Even at the Kadiwa ng Pasko markets, the cheapest rice sells for P25/kilo. – Rappler.com