President Marcos caps rice prices at P45/kilo

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
President Marcos caps rice prices at P45/kilo
Rice dealers display rice and their prices at New York Street, Cubao, Quezon City on April 16, 2023.
STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — To keep rice affordable for poor Filipinos, President Marcos has issued an order imposing price caps on the staple nationwide.

The mandated price ceiling for regular milled rice is P41 per kilo and P45 a kilo for well-milled rice, based on Executive Order 39 signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin on Aug. 31.

The President approved the recommendation of the Department of Agriculture (DA), which he concurrently heads, and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to set price ceilings on the staple.

“The mandated price ceilings shall remain in full force and effect unless lifted by the President upon the recommendation of the Price Coordinating Council or the DA and the DTI,” read the order, which took effect following its publication in the Official Gazette yesterday.

Marcos has directed the DTI and DA to ensure the strict implementation of the mandated price ceilings, monitor and investigate abnormal price movements of rice in the market, and provide assistance to affected retailers with the help of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, according to a statement released by the Presidential Communications Office (PCO).

“I would encourage anyone who finds that someone or a retailer is selling above the price ceiling to report them to the police, to the DA in your area, to the local government so we can check on this and ensure prices would not go higher than what we have set at (P41 to P45 a kilo),” the President said partly in Filipino yesterday.

The DA and DTI made the recommendation to the President to impose price ceilings amid the current surge in retail prices of rice in the country, “which resulted in considerable economic strain on Filipinos, particularly the underprivileged and marginalized,” the PCO said.

EO 39 stated the DA and the DTI “have reported that the country’s rice supplies have reached a stable level and are sufficient, owing to the arrival of rice imports and expected surplus on local production.”

Based on monitoring of the DA in Metro Manila markets, the retail price of local regular milled rice is sold as high as P55 per kilo; local well-milled rice, P56 per kilo; local premium rice, P60 per kilo; and local special rice, P65 per kilo.

For its part, the House of Representatives led by Speaker Martin Romualdez yesterday stood firmly behind the President’s decision to impose a price ceiling on rice.

In a statement, the House said the imposition of price limit is a “timely and necessary intervention” to shield our fellow countrymen from the undue economic burden caused by unwarranted surges in rice prices.

“We deeply understand and empathize with the plight of our people, especially the underprivileged and marginalized who are most affected by the surge in rice prices,” the chamber noted.

According to Romualdez, the House is serious in its support of the Marcos’ immediate goal of stabilizing rice prices and his long-term vision of achieving rice self-sufficiency.

The Speaker likewise asked colleagues in Congress to show their sincerity in helping the government by unmasking the “bad eggs” or members suspected of involvement in unscrupulous trade practices.

Traders caught off-guard

Rice traders in Bulacan were caught off guard by the rice price cap set by the President.

Rice trader Rose Dalangin said they are on the losing end with the price cap. She cited that the latest price of clean and dry newly harvested palay is at P32 per kilo, which would translate to around P52 per kilo wholesale.

On the other hand, wholesale rice trader Tony Santos said freshly harvested rice cannot be sold within the price ceiling, as it now costs P32 per kilo. “There should be a subsidy,” he said.

A rice importer and a rice miller, who did not want to be identified, admitted they are at a loss on how can they cope with the price cap.

“Everything is on hold pending verification, also on hold are the imports.”

Meanwhile, Rosendo So, president of Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura, said the rice price cap issued by Marcos would automatically translate to farmgate prices of palay ranging between P23-P25 per kilo.

Simeon Sioson, chairman of 4SM Multipurpose Farmers Cooperative, agreed with So. However, he said the price cap should have been announced earlier to give retailers and rice traders enough time to dispose of their rice products procured at P32 per kilo of palay.

Farmers shy away from selling their palay harvest to the NFA because of its low buying price of P19 per kilo compared to private traders that buy at more than P20 per kilo, Sioson added.

Price monitors

The DTI is set to mobilize its price monitors to ensure the implementation of the recently issued price ceiling on rice.

“We recognize the urgency of addressing the escalating rice prices in the market. In parallel, it is imperative to maintain stringent oversight over rice pricing and supply to preclude any potential hoarding and price manipulation by traders and retailers,” Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said in a statement yesterday.

“To fortify our monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, the DTI will mobilize its price monitors and engage with local government units to activate their local price coordinating councils,” Pascual said.

“As provided in the EO, we will perform our monitoring and enforcement functions in collaboration with the DA and other concerned agencies,” he added.

Pascual noted that the DTI would collaborate with the Philippine Competition Commission to undertake measures against cartels and other entities that manipulate prices, to ensure the welfare and protection of consumers.

‘Situation to worsen’

Farmers’ group Federation of Free Farmers national manager Raul Montemayor on Friday said the imposition of price caps on rice will only worsen the current situation on the supply and prices of the grains.

“If that is the situation and there is an issue in supply, the price ceiling will not work, it will make matters worse,” Montemayor said.

“We hope we are wrong on this but … if the retailers will suffer losses if they sell at P41 and P45, the availability of rice in the markets will be affected. Nobody will sell if they will not earn.”

He noted the price ceiling will also result in slump in the farmgate prices of palay, especially with the upcoming harvest season starting in the second week of September.


In the Senate, lawmakers have urged the government to find solutions to stop the rising prices of rice and prevent a similar scenario in the future.

“The government should put its money where its mouth is to address the problem of high prices of rice as President Marcos ordered to impose a price ceiling on rice,” Sen. Francis Escudero said.

“Are prices high because of lack of supply or higher cost of inputs? If there is, why hasn’t the government arrested and/or sued anyone for such acts which are illegal?” he asked.

The senator suggested that government must admit that there is widespread hoarding/profiteering and price manipulation of rice, arrest and file cases against the perpetrators and allocate a bigger budget for agriculture.

“I think it’s a move to crack down on cartels who hoard rice and then try to extract excessive profits and manipulate markets during times of scarce supply. Let’s hope the ceiling imposed will incentivize people enough to still import to maintain supply in the market and also to stabilize the price,” Sen. Sonny Angara said.

“It is an appropriate response to control inflation as well as to ensure the affordability of rice and to safeguard food security. But in the long run, we should look at efforts to improve local rice production. I agree with the decision  of the President as it will help stabilize the market in the short term to benefit consumers,” Sen. Francis Tolentino said.

“What needs to be done is to address smuggling, profiteering, cartels and hoarding for the local agricultural industry to flourish and for the price of rice and other agri products to stabilize,” Sen. JV Ejercito said. — Bella Cariaso, Sheila Crisostomo, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Ramon Efren Lazaro, Catherine Talavera

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