Martin

HUNT FOR HOARDERS

August 24, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 226 views

AMID allegations that hoarders are driving up the cost of rice in the market, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez led a team from the House of Representatives on a fact-finding mission and inspected large rice warehouses in Bulacan where they concluded that rice hoarding has been happening.

Upon invitation from Bureau of Customs Commissioner Bienvenido “Bien” Rubio as part of the exercise of the oversight powers of Congress, Romualdez joined in inspecting FS Rice Mill, San Pedro Warehouse, and Great Harvest Rice Meal Warehouse located in the boundaries of Bocaue and Balagtas towns in Bulacan.

“‘Yung karamihan ng [rice] suplay dito aabot na ng three months eh, technically that’s hoarding,” Romualdez, told reporters in an ambush interview.

“Kasi pag ini-embudo mo, ‘pag hino-hoard mo tumataas. Greed ‘yan eh ‘di ba, gusto mo kumita. Kaya nga nagpapasalamat tayo kay Commissioner Bien [Bienvenido Rubio] at saka ‘yung team niya galing sa Customs. Nandito naman tayo kung baga nag-pa-fact finding tayo at ocular inspections just to make sure that lahat ng napapasok na imported tama ang binayaran nilang buwis,” he added.

“Yung assessment talaga natin, sapat na suplay lalo na ‘yung galing sa ibayong-dagat pero mataas na rin ‘yung presyo. Pero nakita din natin sapat na suplay pero medyo matagal na naho-hold.

Dapat kung ano ‘yung pinasok, inilabas agad, ibaba kaagad at reasonable price dahil masyadong mataas ngayon ang presyo,” he said, lamenting that some rice traders have been exploiting the international price adjustments to jack up rice prices in the local market.

“Maski ‘yung mga locally produced, hinohold back, mina-match nila ‘yung pricing sa international pricing [adjustments],” he said. “Kaya ‘yung gusto natin, ‘yung naging payo natin ilabas na nila, ibaba na kasi nakaka-awa na ‘yung taumbayan,” Speaker Romualdez said.

“At sa halip na itong magkaroon ng wet harvest, ilabas na at meron naman tayong mga outlet gaya ng kadiwa kung saan pwede nating ibaba,” Speaker Romualdez said as he urged more traders to support the Kadiwa stores of the Marcos administration by selling their rice there to help the ordinary people.

“We call on our rice czar, si Usec. [Leocadio] Sebastian ng DA (Department of Agriculture). ‘Yun po ang hangarin po ng ating mahal na presidente, President Ferdinand R. Marcos na ibaba natin ‘yung presyo. Let us follow his policy so we are calling on Usec. Sebastian, siya ang in-charge sa rice. Iyung ginagawa natin, sana tutukan talaga ‘yung sapat na suplay at ibaba kaagad ang presyo,” he said.

Quezon Rep. Wilfredo Mark Enverga and ACTS-CIS Rep. Erwin Tulfo and Edvic Yap accompanied Romualdez. Also, they were joined by officials and employees of the BoC.

Later, the BoC armed with letters of authority barred the owners of the Great Harvest Rice Mill Warehouse, the San Pedro Warehouse, and the FS Rice Mill from retrieving the goods pending submisison of the required documents on their rice importation.

“Rice hoarding is economic sabotage in its highest degree. It not only destabilizes prices in the market through arbitrary manipulation, but it also adversely affects the ability of Filipino families to cope with day-to-day living. And for that, hoarders should apply the full force of the law,” Enverga said.