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Albay solon: Probe palay price drop

A senior administration congressman has urged President Duterte to take swift and determined actions to address the adverse effects of tarrification, saying that investigation into possible economic sabotage over the drop in farmgate prices of palay should be initiated immediately.

In an aide memoire sent to Duterte, Albay Rep. Joey Sarte-Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, called for the increased allocation of rice-buying operations and intensified enforcement of anti-profiteering laws should be among them.

Salceda also urged the Philippine Statistics Authority, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Trade Industry to closely monitor price movements of the staple and volumes of domestic and import trade on rice.

Copies of the unsolicited advice to the Chief Executive were also sent to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez (LP, Tacloban City).

Salceda said the Department of Justice, together with the DTI and other support agencies, should go strong in the filing cases of economic sabotage, profiteering, and price manipulation against unscrupulous traders.

The veteran lawmaker noted that the problem that has besieged rice farmers has been triggered by the “unintended consequence of increasing bargaining position of trading monopsonies over powerless farmers.”

Traders have reportedly exploited the effects of the rice tarrification, thus, resulting to a plunge in the buying price of palay.

“Rice liberalization, while curing certain inefficiencies in the rice trade sector, most notably the shortfall between supply and demand, has not addressed chronic inequities in the bargaining power between rice farmers and rice traders,” Salceda pointed out.

He recommended a number of proposals that might help farmers fight off their current condition and deter further rice price manipulation and profiteering. (Ben Rosario)