UNTV EXCLUSIVE: DA to propose a ban on importation of ‘fancy rice’ next year

Marje Pelayo   •   September 20, 2018   •   2965

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol during a market inspection at the Commonwealth Market in Quezon City, September 20, 2018 | UNTV News & Rescue

 

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Following the official return of the National Food Authority (NFA) under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Secretary Manny Piñol checked on the prices of basic goods, particularly rice, at the Commonwealth Market on Thursday, September 20.

During the inspection, Piñol expressed relief that the traders have complied as agreed on the price of several vegetables such as onions.

Red and white onions now sell at P50 to P60 per kilogram from the previous prices of P100 to P120 per kilogram.

“Hanggang P60 pwede nilang ibenta so mababa parin doon sa ating pinagkasunduan na dapat ibenta nila ng P65,” he said in an exclusive interview with UNTV.

However, he expressed dismay over the price of well-milled rice which still stands at P55 per kilogram.

The Secretary said his priority now as the new chair of the NFA Council is to solve the rice “mess” and lower the price by increasing the volume of NFA rice in the market.

“The only way we could address this problem is to flood the market with NFA rice…Ito lang ang panlaban natin para makontrol natin ang pagmanipula ng mga traders saka mga middlemen ng presyo sa merkado,” he said citing his conversation with President Rodrigo Duterte following him taking over the NFA.

Piñol said he already has the President’s go signal to push through with more importation of rice to full load all NFA rice outlets in the country.

“Sabi ng pangulo punuin ko ang (mga) bodega. Pupunuin ko ang (mga) bodega. P12B pa ang pera ng NFA,” he said.

Secretary Piñol added that aside from increasing the supply, he will also propose a ban on the importation of “fancy rice” next year.

“What is happening is, instead of bringing down the price, iyong imported rice ngayon na fancy rice: Jasmine, long grains, are actually being sold at as much as P58 per kilo. So nasaan ang murang presyo?” he said.

“Next year dapat hindi na pwedeng mag-import ng fancy rice. Hayaan natin ang mga Pilipinong magsasaka na magtanim ng magandang klase ng palay para ang bigas ay mabenta ng maganda. At ang ating imported na bigas dapat pantapal lang sa kakulangan  ng ating supply at hindi kailangan fancy rice,” he added. — Rey Pelayo / Marje Pelayo

NFA to reduce rice prices for retailers, gov’t agencies

Marje Pelayo   •   October 28, 2019

Filipino workers carry sacks of government-subsidized rice (NFA Rice) into a store selling various rice brands at a market in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 04 October 2018. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – Retailers and government agencies may now purchase rice from the National Food Authority (NFA) at a reduced price of P25/kg, instead of P27/kg.

Such measure aims at expediting the disposal of NFA’s current buffer stocks, said DA Secretary William Dar.

“Para mas magaan, mas mabilis ang paglabas ng mga imported rice stocks [of the] National Food Authority,” he said.

Agencies which can avail the reduced price of NFA rice include the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Bureau of Corrections (Bucor), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and local government units (LGUs).

Meanwhile, retailers may also get an even lower price per kilogram of NFA rice at P23 instead of P25/kg.

However, this will still be sold to end-consumers at P27/kg thus retailers will be able to gain P200 higher profit for each sack of rice.

Rice retailer Teresita Terado said the disposal of NFA rice still depends on consumer preference.

“Ang taong-bayan naman ang bibili nyan, hindi naman kami. Kahit i-push namin siya kung hindi naman siya mabenta, (It’s the consumers who buy [the NFA rice] not us. We can’t push them to buy it if they don’t want to),” Terado, a rice retailer at Commonwealth Market, said.

But Teresita said there is not much difference between regular commercial rice and NFA rice when it comes to quality.

Consumer group Laban Konsyumer criticized the government’s economic managers for rejecting their proposal, which according to the group’s president Atty. Vic Dimagiba, led to the current state of NFA rice in the country.

“Our proposal was ignored because the economic managers believe then that the imported rice will bring down prices to 32 pesos a kilogram. That didn’t happen,” Dimagiba said.

“What’s happening now is a sort of deja vu. Cramming and bringing back NFA to the market actively,” he added.

Based on the NFA’s October 17 data, there are still 2.5 million sacks of imported rice for disposal in the agency’s warehouses.

Such imported rice shipment was last contracted in December 2018 and its delivery was completed in February 2019. — MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Piñol has instituted a ‘roadmap’ for DA – Usec. Cayanan

Marje Pelayo   •   June 28, 2019

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol

MANILA, Philippines – Secretary Manny Piñol continues to perform as head of the Department of Agriculture (DA) following his submission of his courtesy resignation to President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday (June 27).

However, the Secretary prefers to work silently while waiting for the President’s decision on his request to be relieved and be transferred to a different Cabinet position.

READ: Piñol goes ‘less audio’ as DA chief after Duterte’s talkative’ remarks

While the President contemplates on moving Piñol to chair the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), the Agriculture Secretary has asked the President to pick his replacement from DA’s undersecretaries whom he believes would “ensure the continuity of the programs” that the agency has started and are now in the pipeline.

Piñol’s recommendation for the next DA chief includes current Undersecretary for Special Concerns and Legislative Liaison Officer Waldo Carpio; Undersecretary for Operations Ariel Cayanan; and Undersecretary-designate for Finance Francisco Villano.

“These officials are all competent and loyal to your ideals and advocacies. They are also familiar with the very important programs which are now in the pipeline whose implementation may be waylaid if the new head of DA would be an outsider,” the Secretary said in his letter.

Usec. Cayanan, for his part, said Secretary Piñol’s decision was unexpected.

Nevertheless, he is confident that the Department’s operations will run as planned because Piñol already laid a ‘roadmap’ for the next chief to work on.

“Ang maganda po ang ating departamento ay may mga road maps po tayo. (Our department already has a roadmap.) That, I think, (is) one of what we call accomplishments of the secretary’s administration,” Cayanan noted.

Among the challenges Secretary Piñol addressed in the DA were the outbreak of bird flu in Central Luzon in 2017 and the rice controversy in the country in 2018.

The Secretary opposed the enactment of the Rice Liberalization Law which lifted the quantitative import restriction on rice and removed the National Food Authority (NFA) regulatory functions.

The most recent was the Recto Bank incident that involved 22 Filipino fishermen allegedly hit by Chinese crewmen where President Duterte tasked Piñol to facilitate the offer of assistance to the affected fishermen. – with reports from Rey Pelayo

Rice traders push for stronger measure vs rice cartels, smuggling

Freema Gloria   •   February 26, 2019

METRO MANILA, Philippines – Alyansa ng Industriyang Bigas, a group of rice traders are appealing for a strong measure against rice cartels and smuggling to be included in the implementing Rules and Regulation that is being crafted for the Rice Tariffication Law.

Its founding chairman, Robert Hernandez, said that the illegal activities usually cause rice prices to increase in the market.

“Itong mga smuggler, itapon lang nila ang P200, may kita sila P150 sa P1,000, masaya na sila. Malaking kita na yan sa rice businesses. The government will do something. Included sa IRR measures how to eradicate those smugglers,” he said.

Hernandez added that, aside from the measures that the government will impose to help the local farmers, it must also monitor the cost that the retailers group will charge on top of the suggested retail price.

Under the Rice Tariffication Law, the 24-year implementation of the quantitative restriction on rice imporation has been replaced by a 35% tariff on rice importation from within ASEAN private traders.

This new system may result in the inflow of cheaper rice in the market, and the NFA rice will eventually be eliminated.

It will be recalled that one of the most significant issues raised before was the monopoly on rice supply wherein the name of Davidson Bangayan, was floated as a suspected big time rice smuggler.

The Department of Justice released a resolution in November 2018, and filed charges against Bangayan.

However, with the new tariffication law on rice, 10 billion pesos will be annually allocated to the Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund.

This will directly help the Flipino farmers in improving the volume of their harvest.

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the Rice Tariffication Law or the Republic Act. No. 11203 on February 04, 2019 and it is expected to be imposed on March 05, 2019. – Freema Salonga-Gloria (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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