San Juan retailers affected by rice price cap now getting cash, rent aid

San Mayor Francis Zamora (standing in red shirt at right) oversses the distribution of cash aid to rice retailers at the Agora Public Market on Sept. 9, 2023.

San Mayor Francis Zamora (standing in red shirt at right) oversses the distribution of cash aid to rice retailers at the Agora Public Market on Sept. 9, 2023. (Photo from his office)

MANILA, Philippines — Rice retailers in San Juan City have been getting financial aid from the national government since Sept. 9, and those based at the Agora Public Market were given free rental for a month, according to San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora.

The distribution of P15,000 aid for each retailer took place at the Agora, lead Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Social Welfare Assistant Secretary Ada A. Colico, and Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mes>

Zamora oversaw the distribution.

San Juan City Hall also announced it would release P5,000 for each San Juan rice retailer by the following week.

A total of 24 out of 48 registered small rice retailers in San Juan received a one-time aid of P15,000 from the national government to help make up for the losses they might incur during the strict implementation of Executive Order No. 39, which mandated the rice price cap starting Sept. 5.

EO 39 sets price caps for regular-milled rice at P41 per kilogram and for well-milled rice at  P45 per kilogram.

Another payout will be scheduled for those who were not able to claim the financial assistance.

The San Juan rice retailers were among the first nationwide to get cash assistance from the national government under the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“Now we can see what President [Ferdinand] Marcos [Jr.] said that when a situation needs to be acted on we will take a whole-of-government approach. The government departments at the national government are united in finding solutions to the problems we are facing. If we get together and think as one, act as one, we can face these problems and solve them,” Pascual said in Filipino.

“The entire government is united with the Department of Agriculture in supporting those affected by Executive Order No. 39 that set a price ceiling on regular and well-milled rice. Everyone, from the farmers to those selling these basic necessities such as rice, is one with the Department of Agriculture in ensuring that buyers can well-afford the prices.” De Mesa said.

He also assured the retailers the rice problem was temporary, saying: “The harvest season has started, and now we can expect one of the biggest havest nationwide — at 20 million metric tons.  In the next week or two weeks, will start to see changes in rice prices.”

“I thank Secretary Pascual. We are all here because we are happy that San Juan will be one of the first to receive assistance from the national government,” Mayor Zamora explained.

To the rice dealers, he said “Thank you for supporting EO 39. I’m thanking those not only at the Agora Market but elsewhere in the city because nobody violated the price ceiling. I understand the situation of rice retailers. Many of you buy rice at high prices but you still supported EO 39. I would also like to tell San Juan rice retailers that the local government unit will add an additional P5,000 [in aid].”

The Department of Trade and Industry drew up the list of aid beneficiaries from the registered retailers of the Agora Market and at the San Juan Business Permit and Licensing Office.

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