House Appropriations Committee Chairperson Davao City Rep. Karlo “Ang Probinsyano” Nograles is urging the National Food Authority (NFA) to look into what he describes as a possible price manipulation by rice traders in Mindanao as he called the agency’s attention to reports of abnormally high rice prices in Zamboanga City, where the prices of the staple grain ranges from P55 to P68 per kilo.
According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the average retail price of a kilo of regular milled rice in the country is P42.26, while the average retail price of well milled rice is P45.71 per kilo.
“Even accounting for less than optimal weather conditions, the discrepancy of the prices in the Zamboanga peninsula is huge.”
“Even accounting for less than optimal weather conditions, the discrepancy of the prices in the Zamboanga peninsula is huge, masyado pa rin pong mahal ang presyong ito. Prices like these put a huge strain on the limited budgets of families who just want to have three square meals a day. The NFA should check if something illegal is going on,” Nograles said.
The pro-probinsyano lawmaker wasted no time in responding to the problem as he helped facilitate the release and distribution of NFA rice in Zamboanga City. NFA rice is P27 a kilo and is the the most affordable rice variety in the market.
“Some 120,000 bags or 6,000 metric tons of rice were allocated by the NFA for Region IX. This will help stabilize the soaring prices of local commercial rice since the consumers would have more choices of rice to choose from,” said the legislator from Mindanao.
According to the NFA, the current scarcity of rice in the country is due to the spate of bad weather which has affected both rice production and the shipment of the food staple.
“What’s worse, the information relayed to me is that unscrupulous traders are hoarding more rice, thereby driving up prices further. They’re manipulating the market in their favor but this is making probinsyanos suffer. Ang dami na pong nagsusumbong sa akin. The NFA must find out if this practice occurs in Zamboanga City alone or in the entire Zamboanga peninsula,” stressed the three-term congressman.
Reports reaching Nograles indicated these prices of rice in Region IX: Dipolog, Zamboanga Del Norte (P55 – P60 per kilo); Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur (P55 – P60 per kilo); Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur (P55 – P60 per kilo); and Zamboanga City (P60 – P68 per kilo).
Just further south in Basilan, rice prices are pegged at P60 to P70 pesos per kilo.
“What’s worse, the information relayed to me is that unscrupulous traders are hoarding more rice, thereby driving up prices further.”
Nograles said he has asked the NFA and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to update him on their inspections of various rice warehouses in the region.
Zamboanga City Congressman Celso Lobregat also shared this concern and has prodded government agencies to step up the distribution of NFA rice in the region.