A total of 76 micro rice retailers in Negros Oriental received on Friday government assistance of PHP15,000 to cushion the effect of the mandated price cap on their businesses.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) led the distribution of cash assistance at the convention center in this capital city and was facilitated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
It was the second batch of micro rice retailers in the province to receive the aid under the DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program-Economic Relief Subsidy (SLP-ERS) after President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. issued Executive Order No. 39 mandating a price cap of PHP41 per kg. for regular-milled rice and PHP45 per kg. for well-milled rice.
Nedelyn Borongan, division chief of the Consumer Protection Division of DTI-Negros Oriental, said this batch comprises micro rice retailers selling the staple at sari-sari stores and similar outlets.
The first batch that received the payout last week included 63 beneficiaries selling rice in the wet and dry markets.
However, three from the initial batch turned out to be unqualified so they had to replace them and were included in the new batch instead.
As of Sept. 22, a total of PHP2.04 million was disbursed to 136 beneficiaries in the province.
In an interview with the Philippine News Agency, the beneficiaries thanked the President for being mindful of their plight.
Forty-five-year-old Angel Honculada from Bacong town runs a sari-sari store that was given to him by his mother sometime in 2015.
Honculada said he immediately adjusted the prices of his regular and well-milled rice after DTI representatives made rounds of the markets and store outlets.
Honculada said he procures his rice on a consignment basis. He usually gets 12 sacks of rice every week from his supplier.
He estimated some PHP10,000 in losses since the price cap was imposed.
Rosemary Dagoy, 65, from Valencia town, said it was painful to incur losses but they had no choice but to follow the order.
It was a good thing though that there was a subsidy from the government to cover their losses.
She was hopeful too that once the harvest season sets in, the prices of the staple will return to normal.
For his part, Cleo Lumaya, 35, of Siaton town, said he started selling rice in 2017 at a sari-sari store near the public market.
Lumaya said that since Sept. 5, he noticed that not many people are no longer buying rice in sacks but only in kilos.
He estimates losses of some PHP2,000 a day or PHP15,000 a week because of the price ceiling.
The price cap imposition was so sudden that they did not have time to prepare for the consequences, but the government cash assistance can make up for at least a week’s losses, Lumaya said.
He had to gradually reduce the prices of rice at his store before reaching the price cap.
Narcisa Bayon-on, 65, also from Siaton, was thankful that the assistance from the government would help her family tide over their day-to-day sales.
Meanwhile, the DTI here announced that a third round of cash assistance for micro rice retailers in Negros Oriental is scheduled on Sept. 29.
Source: Philippines News Agency