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CEBU, Philippines – Mary Rose Caballero, 29, could not contain her excitement when she finally bought a kilo of rice for only P20 at the Talisay City Hall in Cebu.
The Cebu Provincial Government launched its Sugbo Merkadong Barato (SMB) program on Tuesday, November 28, with the goal of selling rice at P20 per kilo to indigent families.
“Dako na kaayo ni nga tabang. Kung mupalit ta sa merkado muabot man og P60 (This is a big help. If we bought at the market, it would reach P60),” Caballero told Rappler.
Each beneficiary was allowed a maximum of 5 kilos of rice per purchase in a week. For Caballero, 5 kilos of rice was enough for at least 4 days for her family of 3.
The province budgeted P100 million for the purchase of 80,000 bags of rice from the National Food Authority (NFA).
The rice will be distributed to the 50 local government units of Cebu province. Officials and workers of the Department of Social Welfare and Development will conduct surveys to identify qualified beneficiaries.
The Talisay City Social Welfare and Development Office said it has more than 6,000 beneficiaries for the program. Each of the beneficiaries will be given ID cards with QR codes to track rice purchases.
Residents of Talisay City avail of the ₱20 per kilo NFA rice during the launch of Sugbo Merkadong Barato at Talisay City Hall on Tuesday, November 28, 2023. The flagship program aims to bring the price of rice to ₱20 per kilo for all indigent Cebuanos. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/DGwAraxVDF— Jacq Hernandez (@JacqHernandezph) November 28, 2023
‘Fulfilling a promise’
House Speaker Martin Romualdez praised the Cebu provincial government led by Governor Gwen Garcia for its efforts to accomplish the sale of P20-per-kilo rice.
“Many say that it is impossible. But as Cebu has done, as it did many times in the past, it has made dreams a reality,” Romualdez said, referring to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s campaign promise of bringing down the price of rice to P20.
In her speech, Garcia said that the program was a collaboration of government agencies and concerned sectors.
“The provincial government is doing its best that it can to support the President that we cast our votes for. It is incumbent upon each and every one of us to help our President,” Garcia said.
According to the provincial government, the selling of P20-per-kilo rice will continue until supplies run out. As of this writing, the province was allocating another P100 million for the purchase of commercial rice.
Besides rice, residents can also avail of fresh and affordable farm produce and seafood at SMB pop-up stores in the province. – Rappler.com