CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 15 September) — Prices of rice in the hinterland villages of this city have reached as high as P70 per kilo despite efforts by local authorities to bring these down by setting up shops that sell the staple at the government-mandated price of P41 to P45 per kilogram.
Lawyer Jose Edgardo Uy, chair of Cagayan de Oro’s Regulatory Compliance Board said they have received reports that prices of the basic commodity have spiraled in Barangay Taglimao and other hinterland areas.
Councilor George Goking, chair of the city council’s trade and commerce committee said rice traders were set to increase rice prices by as much as P25 per kilogram but stopped when the city government implemented Executive Order No. 39 this week.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed EO 39 last August 31 imposing a price ceiling on rice ranging from P41 per kilogram (regular milled) to P45 per kilogram (well-milled).
The price cap was intended to stop the increase in the price of locally produced and imported rice, with prices going up by 4 percent to 14 percent in August.
“The traders were planning to spike the price into two incremental increases of P12.50 a kilo. It would have been an economic disaster,” Goking said.
The city government and the Department of Trade and Industry started selling affordable rice at P40 to P43 per kilogram last Monday and allowed every buyer to buy 10 kilograms.
The Department of Agriculture Region 10 said the prices of well-milled rice in Northern Mindanao went up to P65 per kilogram before EO 39 was implemented this week.
DA 10 Regional Director Carlota Madriaga said the situation was aggravated by the low supply of rice in Northern Mindanao in August, a “lean month,” and the hike in petroleum prices.
She said rice stock this month would only be good for 18 days because there is no harvest yet.
“We have to feed more than five million people three times a day in Region 10. Our stocks could barely meet the demand,” she said.
Madriaga said the situation would ease in the fourth quarter when farmers in Northern Mindanao start harvesting.
She said the low stock of the staple was augmented by 279,000 metric tons of rice imported from Vietnam that arrived here in several shipments starting in January.
Larry Paraluman, chief of the DA 10 Agribusiness and Marketing Division said a 50-kilogram bag of rice now costs P300 to transport from Bukidnon to Cagayan de Oro.
He said the high cost of fuel also affected the prices of rice being sold in Cagayan de Oro.
As presidential candidate, Marcos Jr. promised the price of rice could go down to 20 pesos per kilogram. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)