PILI, CAMARINES SUR – Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday called on the national government to take immediate steps to address concerns on the supply of rice from the National Food Authority (NFA), amid its effects on prices of rice in the market, including commercial brands.
VP Leni visited Pili Public Market in Barangay Old San Roque, Pili, Camarines Sur, on Wednesday morning, to personally check on the price of rice and the availability of NFA stock in the area.
Here, she spoke with retailers and consumers, including those from the Pili Market Development Cooperative. A team from the Office of the Vice President also met with the local NFA office to discuss the matter.
Both traders and consumers noted that the shortage of NFA rice in the market has caused an increase, even on the prices of commercial rice, VP Leni said. She added that during the consultation, accredited NFA retailers disclosed that they have received less than their scheduled allocation since January.
“Nababahala sila kasi una, hinahanap talaga ng tao iyong NFA rice kasi siya talaga iyong mas mura, saka maganda na din iyong quality. Pangalawa, kapag kulang iyong NFA rice, nagshu-shoot up talaga iyong prices ng commercial rice. Pati iyong mga retailers, nagrereklamo sila kasi siyempre, grabe sa kapital. Tapos iyong mga tao din nagrereklamo,” she said.
These efforts are part of the OVP’s series of consultations with stakeholders—including farmer groups and other retailers—with the intention of finding solutions to the problem of skyrocketing rice prices.
VP Leni noted that the government should look into subsidizing NFA’s purchase of palay, which is at around P17 under the law, in order to help sustain the ideal buffer of the agency.
“Iyong dahilan talaga nito, dahil mababa iyong bili ng NFA. Iyong ibang mga suppliers dito, ang bili nila is 19 pesos; ang NFA ay 17 [pesos] lang iyong bili. So sino iyong ma-e-engganyong magbenta sa NFA? Magbebenta na lang sila sa private,” she said. “Baka puwedeng makabili at 19 [pesos], para mapunuan lang iyong ideal na buffer stock para bumaba ulit iyong presyo ng bigas.”
“Kasi iyong pinipilit natin iyong rice self-sufficiency, siguro ang tanong din: kumusta iyong presyo? Kasi kahit rice self-sufficient tayo, kung iyong presyo napakataas, mas nahihirapan pa din iyong mga consumers,” she added.