PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III will convene a meeting soon to get "definitive answers" regarding the sudden increases on food prices, such as rice and garlic.

In an interview with reporters who accompanied him in Japan on Tuesday, the President said the meeting will be held later this week or by next week.

He said there were several reasons being cited, such as the effects of previous typhoons.

"'Yung epekto ba ng pag-aari… 'Yung laban natin, laban sa Spratlys, ay nagpapataas ng presyo?," he said, referring to the territorial row with China. "We need definitive answers."

But he noted that there were really projections that there would be lean supply of rice for June and July and this was the reason why the government has to import 800,000 metric tons (MT).

Some 12,000 MT of rice already came in, he said.

"There will be a meeting, perhaps this week—if not, at the latest, by next week—che-check-in rin 'yung especially rice but also pati na rin sa garlic to determine exactly what is causing this price spike or price spikes," the President said.

He had also tasked the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) about a month or two ago to check whether it would be possible to use satellite imagery to determine arable lands devoted to planting rice and their tonnage per hectare capacity to get a real and accurate picture of the rice supply situation.

The National Food Authority (NFA) also doubled its normal supply of rice to ensure that there is adequate stock in the market to avoid panic buying among consumers that might further induce price increases.

Aquino said he was informed that only the well-milled rice showed very significant spike in prices and not the low-end ones, therefore, it is not accurate to say that a vast majority has been affected by this situation.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. earlier reported that the prices of regular milled and well-milled rice of the NFA remain at P27.00 and P32.00 per kilogram respectively, while the premium or commercial well-milled rice range from P40.00 to P50.00 per kilo. (SDR/Sunnex)