The government is now looking into the possible collusion of traders, cooperatives and officials of the National Food Authority (NFA) in the hoarding of rice, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Jr. said the campaign against profiteers and hoarders will continue in a bid to stabilize food prices.
He issued the statement after government inspectors discovered that low-cost government rice were being repacked in various warehouses in Metro Manila and Bulacan and sold as commercial rice.
Three merchants from Bulacan province and Muntinlupa City were charged with hoarding.
In Marilao, Bulacan, the raiders led by Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan caught merchants in the act of rebagging NFA rice.
Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd directed the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) to conduct inspections of all rice warehouses seven days a week.
Coloma said Pangilinan directed NFA Administrator Arthur Juan to order the authority’s regional directors in Bulacan and the rest of Central Luzon to explain how private rice merchants were able to get thousands of sacks of NFA rice.
He added that charges will be filed against traders and officials found to have violated the law.
“Malinaw po ang direktiba ng Pangulo na kinakailangang ipatupad ang batas, kinakailangang alamin kung sino ang mga responsable diyan sa mga hoarding activities at panagutin sila sa batas [The President’s order is clear: Find out who are behind these hoarding activities and punish them],” Coloma said.
The average retail price of well-milled rice rose to P42.19 per kilogram in early June, an increase of 19 percent from prices a year ago.
Coloma asked the public to report suspected unscrupulous traders to the Department of Trade and Industry and law enforcement agencies.