Western Visayas

DSWD Western Visayas to release P3.75-million subsidy to rice retailers

John Sitchon

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DSWD Western Visayas to release P3.75-million subsidy to rice retailers

RICE. A rice dealer waits for customers at her store in the Burgos Public Market in Negros Occidental on Thursday, August 31.

National Food Authority Negros Occidental

The government has identified an initial 250 micro rice retailers in Western Visayas as aid beneficiaries

CEBU, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development in Western Visayas (DSWD VI) is planning to release P3.75 million in subsidies to rice retailers in the region who are affected by the nationwide rice price cap.

In a statement released on Monday, September 11, DSWD VI Regional Director Carmelo Nochete said they were fast tracking the processing of the subsidies so that rice retailers running small stores would receive the aid as soon as possible.

The Department of Trade and Industry identified 250 micro rice retailers in the region as main beneficiaries of the one-time cash assistance worth P15,000 each through the DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program.

On Monday, the national office of the DSWD provided cash assistance to 337 small rice retailers in Metro Manila and in Zamboanga del Sur.

This came after rice retailers across the country suffered financial losses from the nationwide implementation of Executive Order No. 39, which limits the price of regular milled rice at P41 and well-milled rice at P45.

Adjusting to change

In Iloilo City, the regional capital of Western Visayas, rice traders are experiencing a loss in profit but are still committed to following the intended price ceiling on regular and well-milled rice.

Rex Asiong, 38, the manager of Asiong’s Grains Trading, told Rappler in an interview on Tuesday, September 12, that they were steadily adjusting to the abrupt change in prices.

According to him, they normally set a P4-margin for profit on the regular and well-milled rice that they sell, but at present they are forced to put it down to P1 in order to comply with the price ceiling.

While the number of customers they get in a day hasn’t changed, Asiong is hoping that the government would provide them with assistance in order to get back their lost profit. 

“It would help. At least, we could get recover the costs,” he said in Filipino.

On September 6, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. and representatives of the Department of Agriculture and the Provincial Price Coordinating Council met with the local rice traders and importers to discuss the implementation of the rice price ceiling.

Defensor said in a press conference on September 8 that they couldn’t provide any financial assistance to affected retailers as it was not within the provincial government’s budget.

“[But] there are other sources. Maybe the disaster funds can be used, but you need a declaration of calamity,” the governor said.

As of this writing, the provincial government has not yet declared a state of calamity. – Rappler.com

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