Rice prices soar in Surigao

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/20 September) —Prices of commercial rice in this city have soared by as much as P10 per kilogram (kg), MindaNews learned Friday.

Celestino Negapatan, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) provincial supervisor, said the Local Price Monitoring Council (LPMC), which is chaired by Mayor Ernesto Matugas, is set to still conduct a monitoring on the prevailing prices of commercial rice within the month.

He also said it is the regional office of the Department of Agriculture that is tasked to monitor rice prices and not the DTI, which functions as the secretariat of the LPMC.

The LMPC, along with other concerned government agencies, held a meeting earlier this month, with a representative of the National Food Authority presenting the price situation.

Negapatan said that rice stores selling at excessive prices would be summoned by the LMPC.

Josephine Gabutin, DTI consumer specialist, said that their office has no authority overseeing the price of rice, adding they’re tasked to monitor other basic commodities like canned goods, milk, sugar and dairy products.

Soaring rice prices have been hurting ordinary residents, with one noting “it has gone beyond his pocket’s reach.”

Truck driver Reylan Figuron said he used to buy Royal Rice at P1,800 per sack in the early months of the year.

“It’s now P2,550 per sack and that’s way too much. It hurts my pocket,” he said, noting the price difference of P750 a sack.

Regine Sacro, one of the rice vendors at the Surigao Public Market, said she noticed rice prices started getting expensive from their suppliers in late July, prompting her to also adjust her retail prices.

In July, for instance, the 7-Tonner rice variety was sold at P40-42 per kg, but now fetches from P47-49/kg.

Tita Ga, another rice vendor at the Surigao City Public Market, said lack of supply has caused the price to spike.

“If there is too much supply, then the price would go down,” Ga said.

She said that most of the rice produced in Surigao del Norte was bought by other entrepreneurs and sold outside the province.

MindaNews called up the DA regional office but no one from the agency issued comments as of posting time. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)