Rice vendors at public market may not have to pay rent for 1 month

VIOLATORS. Rice vendors at the Mandaue City Public Market will be exempted from proposed rent moratorium and will be penalized if caught not complying with price ceiling on two rice varieties. / FILE FOTO
VIOLATORS. Rice vendors at the Mandaue City Public Market will be exempted from proposed rent moratorium and will be penalized if caught not complying with price ceiling on two rice varieties. / FILE FOTO

A PENDING ordinance will impose a one-month moratorium on rent for the 108 rice vendors at the Mandaue City Public Market (MCPM).

The moratorium will cover the period between Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, and Oct. 14.

Rice vendors pay a daily rent of P40, excluding electricity and water.

Author Councilor Oscar del Castillo, committee on market and abattoir chairman, hopes his measure will be passed on final reading during the City Council’s special session on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

Del Castillo said the break will help rice vendors cope with the effects of Executive Order (EO) 39, which was implemented on Sept. 5.

The EO sets a price cap on regular-milled rice at P41 per kilo and well-milled rice at P45 kilo.

Del Castillo said they might extend the moratorium or slash the rent until EO 39 is lifted.

He said rice vendors at the MCPM have already been listed as beneficiaries of the P15,000 cash assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development. They are just waiting for the next payout, he said.

A total of 17 rice vendors in the whole of Cebu received the financial grant during the first payout in Central Visayas last Thursday, Sept. 14.

Penalties

Del Castillo said they monitor rice prices at the MCPM every day. So far, he said, everyone is complying with the order.

Councilor Jennifer del Mar, the ordinance’s co-author, said violators will be exempted from the rent moratorium and may have to pay penalties.

Under the Republic Act 7581, or the Price Act, violators of the price ceiling set by the government “shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment for a period of not less than one year nor more than 10 years of a fine of not less than P5,000 nor more than P1 million, or both, at the discretion of the court.”

During the first few days of EO 39’s implementation, some rice vendors at MCPM complained that they could not comply with the price cap because they would end up losing money, having bought their supply at a much higher price.

Del Castillo said they will discuss the matter, including other means to help the rice vendors, du ring the special session on Tuesday.

“We don’t have data yet as to how many they are (rice vendors outside MCPM) because they are private sectors. Our priority now is to help those at the MCPM because they belong to the public sector,” the councilor said. 

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