ANOTHER 241 micro rice retailers in Central Visayas, including 60 from Cebu, received the P15,000 cash assistance from the National Government on Friday, Sept 22, 2023.
They belonged to the second batch of micro rice retailers in the region that identified as affected entrepreneurs who complied with the implementation of the mandatory price cap on selected rice varieties.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 7, Department of Agriculture (DA) 7, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government 7 held simultaneous payouts across the provinces of Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor.
In Cebu, the payout was conducted at the DTI Cebu Provincial Office in Cebu City.
The beneficiaries came from the towns of Alcoy (one), Argao (four), Balamban (three), Compostela (one), Consolacion (two), Minglanilla (six), and Pinamungajan (one) and the cities of Cebu (five), Lapu-Lapu (12), Mandaue (16), and Toledo (nine).
There were 65 beneficiaries in Bohol, 76 in Negros Oriental and 40 in Siquijor.
All in all, the DSWD 7 released P3.6 million on Friday, as part of its one-time financial aid under its Sustainable Livelihood Program-Economic Relief Subsidy (SLP-ERS).
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. mandated through Executive Order (EO) 39 a price cap on regular-milled rice (RMR) at P41 per kilo and well-milled rice (WMR) at P45 per kilo to combat price surges of rice in the country.
Ines Cajegas, chief trade industry development specialist of the Consumer Protection Division of the DTI Cebu Province said micro rice retailers must be registered with the Business Permits and Licensing Office, or registered as sole proprietors with the DTI to qualify for the cash grant.
Unregistered rice retailers must be validated by market administrators, and verified by the DTI, she said.
Micro rice retailers are defined as entrepreneurs with assets of P3 million or less, excluding land, who sell rice in public markets.
DTI Cebu has no data as to the exact number of rice retailers in the province and in Metro Cebu.
During the first payout in the region last Sept. 14, 17 rice retailers in Cebu received the cash aid.
Cajegas said they are still waiting for the Central Office to give them a list of the next batch of beneficiaries and tell them when the next payout will be.
She said 20 of the 53 local government units in Cebu have submitted a master list of rice retailers that have complied with EO 39.
However, she said the master list is still subject for verification and evaluation.
Saturtino Camasura, DSWD Cebu provincial coordinator for SLP-ERS, acknowledged that the P15,000 cash aid is not enough to compensate rice retailers for their losses.
He said the cash aid is intended to alleviate the impact of EO 39 on micro rice retailers, who suffered financially for complying with the price ceiling.
Meanwhile, Cajegas said suppliers and traders should be selling RMR and WMR at P36 to P38 per kilo, but during their monitoring they discovered that these suppliers and traders continue to sell at P41 to P42 per kilo or more.
Cajegas said the DTI is coordinating with the DA to check on rice traders and suppliers to better understand the whole value market chain – from the farmers to millers, distributors, traders, down to retailers – to determine the reason for the high price of rice in the market.
She said only retailers are under the DTI’s jurisdiction, while suppliers and traders are under the jurisdiction of the DA.