Marcos Issues E.O. No. 39, Food Makes Up Largest Portion of Inflation Index

By: Aianna Xyril Monsod
September 01, 2023

Rice at 20 Pesos is not possible according to NEDA but its current prices can be lower leading to E.O. No.39 to set price ceilings on rice. Photo courtesy of the Philippine Star.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. issued Executive Order No. 39, which will set price ceilings on rice in the country.

As stated in E.O. 39, the mandated price cap for regular milled rice is P41.00 per kilogram, while the mandated price limit for well-milled rice is P45.00 per kilogram. This is far from the 20 pesos per kilogram of rice promised by the president during his electoral campaign in 2022.

The E.O. was issued after the sectoral meeting on August 29, where President Marcos received an update about the country’s rice situation. It will go into effect immediately upon publication in the Official Gazette or a newspaper with general distribution.

"The mandated price ceilings shall remain in full force and effect unless lifted by the President upon the recommendation of the Price Coordinating Council or the DA and the DTI," the E.O. indicated.

The order was a joint recommendation by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which was approved by Marcos and signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin on August 31.

Filipinos, especially the disadvantaged and marginalized, are suffering greatly as a result of the dramatic growth in rice retail prices at the moment. 

Due to the tight supply the DA and DTI suggested capping the price of rice. It seeks to provide Filipinos with moderately priced and readily available staple foods. 

President Marcos has instructed the DTI and the DA to make sure the mandated price limits for rice are followed, to keep an eye on unusual price changes, and help retailers facing problems, with support from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Marcos also told the Philippine Competition Commission to take action against cartels or individuals misusing their market dominance in order to guarantee fair market competition and safeguard consumer interests and safety.

Food still biggest price hike driver

In its most recent record, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), slower increases in energy and food prices were a major factor in the nation's inflation rate slowing for the sixth consecutive month in July to its lowest level in 16 months.

Despite still making up the largest portion of the inflation index, food inflation alone decreased recently in July from 6.7 percent to 6.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the price of onions, which caused the Philippines' food prices to skyrocket, has dropped to P70.00 a kilogram from P120.00. 

Onion farmers in Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, and Mindoro are unable to sell their bulbs kept in cold storage due to the influx of imported red onions. 

“There was a slump in prices of onions in cold storage, how come the DA (Department of Agriculture) will import more. The markets are now being flooded with imports, legal or not, but the impact is on the local onion farmers,” Executive Director of farmers’ group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura, Jayson Cainglet said. 

Due to recent typhoon rages, agricultural production and its costing have been in an up and down situation, teasing and may potentially endanger the downward aim and trend on inflation.  

In response, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) calls for the Philippines to be vigilant about price increases, as more weather disturbances may hit the country.

“The government will implement necessary measures to prevent price spikes, protect the purchasing power of Filipino families and sustain our economic recovery and momentum,” NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.