Rice price ceiling violators may face sanctions: DA

MANILA — The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Tuesday warned rice retailers and vendors in Metro Manila and nearby areas that they will face fines and other penalties if caught selling their products higher than the suggested retail prices (SRP).

The implementation of the SRP for premium imported rice was moved from Oct. 23 to Oct. 27 following the request of rice industry stakeholders for a three-day period to prepare the signages in the retail outlets.

Sold for PHP60 per kilo in the retail market until Monday, premium imported rice will be priced at no more than PHP43 starting Saturday.

“Penalties and sanctions would include cancellation of NFA (National Food Authority) licenses, stiff fines and criminal charges,” DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said in his Facebook page on Tuesday.

Piñol said stakeholders, however, have agreed that even before the effectivity of the penalties and sanctions, they were willing to implement the SRP on Saturday to “show their support to the efforts of President Rody Duterte to stabilize the price of goods in the market.”

Republic Act 7581, otherwise known as the “Price Act”, provides penalty for violation of price ceiling of imprisonment for one to 10 years, or a fine of PHP5,000 to PHP1 million, or both, at the discretion of the court.

Piñol added that industry stakeholders also agreed that there will be distinct identification of imported and local rice, and those sold in the stalls will be identified as regular milled, well-milled, premium and special rice.

“The use of fancy brand names like Mindoro Dinorado, Senandomeng, Super Angelica, Yummy Rice and Double Diamond will be banned to stop the mislabelling and deception in the marketing of rice,” he said.

Meanwhile, imported well-milled rice, which is 25 percent broken, will be sold at no more than PHP39 per kilo while imported premium rice, which was sold for PHP60 per kilo, will now be PHP43 per kilo;

Philippine rice classified as regular milled” will be sold at no more than PHP39 per kilo, well milled at PHP44 per kilo, while premium rice will be priced not higher than PHP47 per kilo.

There will be no SRP for special rice that includes Cordillera heirloom rice, organic brown, red and black rice, real Dinorado, Milagrosa, Jasponica, Dona Maria, Hinumay, Malido, Kamoros, Malagkit and other indigenous rice varieties. Leslie Gatpolintan/PNA-northboundasia.com