Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez

Rice warehouse inspections won’t be one-hit wonder — Speaker Romualdez 

August 28, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 190 views

SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez has assured Filipino consumers that the surprise inspections at warehouses holding rice stocks last week wasn’t a one-hit wonder and that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) under Commissioner Bienvenido “Bien” Y. Rubio would continue to carry out more inspections.

“I thank Commissioner Rubio for his initiative of peering into these suspicious warehouses at a time when Filipinos are grappling with rising prices of rice. This will make hoarders think twice about their schemes,” Romualdez said on Sunday.

“We need to carry out more of these inspections and I trust the commissioner to do so in oder to keep rice traders obedient to the law,” Romualdez, the leader of the 311-strong House of Representatives.

Last August 24, the joint contingent from the House and BOC swooped down at warehouses in Bulacan and found over 200,000 sacks of rice that was seemingly being purposely held.

Before the day was over, 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 retreiving the goods pending submisison of the required documents on their rice importation.

During the Bulacan inspections, Romualdez stressed that the discovered supply of rice should be released to the local market in order to mitigate the rising prices of the staple grain.

For the past few weeks, the price of rice has been steadily rising with retailers selling at P50 to P62 per kilogram in Metro Manila. If left unaddressed, it is projected to reach P60 to P65 in the coming days.

Romualdez said he agrees with the remark of House Committee on Agriculture and Food chairman, Quezon 1st district Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga that “Rice hoarding is economic sabotage in its highest degree.”

“Lahat ng Pilipino kumakain ng kanin. Kung may matapon o masayang na kahit kaunting bigas sa pagsasaing, nanghihinayang tayo. Kaya napaksakit at nakakapanggalit talaga itong ginagawa ng mga rice hoarders,” the Leyte 1st district congressman said.

At any rate, the House of Representatives vowed that the rice won’t go the way of onions like the latter commodity did last year, when it reached absurd prices of over P700 per kilo.

“Shame on us, the officials in government, if we let that happen again, especially to our staple food. Thanks to the hearings in aid of legislation led by Cong Enverga, we already know exactly how a cartel works. Pipigilan natin sila, hindi natin sila hahayaang makapuntos muli,” the Speaker said.