President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Friday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Philippine National Police (PNP) to go after persons who may be manipulating the prices of basic commodities and file charges against them.
In a media interview, Aquino said the National Food Authority (NFA) also has ongoing operations against cartels that may be behind the recent increases in the prices of rice, garlic and other goods.
“The point is we have tasked all concerned agencies to implement immediate solutions, but what is important in the long term is to deal with groups or individuals who take advantage of the people,” the President told reporters.
He gave the orders after it was determined that there is no shortage of rice and garlic.
Aquino said reports on the price hikes of rice and other commodities “doesn’t make sense.”
“They are insisting there is enough supply. So the suspicion is there are those colluding to keep the prices high, especially the price of garlic,” he noted.
“As for the rice, we’ve already received 25 percent of what we consigned because these are the months, especially in the beginning of July, that are lean months because we’re waiting for our harvest,” Aquino said.
Meanwhile, the President announced that the government will be importing rice from Vietnam to replenish the NFA’s buffer stock.
“Mag-i-import ho tayo para kung meron ngang magsasamantala, ‘yung itatago nila ‘yung kanilang supply, may pampalit tayo doon at siguraduhin nating malugi sila sa ginawa nila [We are importing rice so that if there are those taking advantage and are hiding their supplies, we have rice to provide in exchange to ensure they will lose money doing what they’re doing],” he said.
Based on the Department of Agriculture’s monitoring of prices, the average retail price of well-milled rice reached P42.19 a kilo at the beginning of June. This was 19 percent higher than last year’s prices.
The average retail price of regular milled rice was pegged at P38.93, or 22 percent higher than a year ago.
The farm-gate price of palay (unhusked rice) was at an average of P20.83 per kilo, or up 26 percent.