President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed Executive Order (EO) No. 39 on Friday, August 31, following the joint recommendations of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). This EO imposes a price ceiling on rice due to the unreasonable increase in retail prices despite sufficient supply, which can be attributed to recent rice imports and anticipated surplus from local production.
The main factors contributing to these issues include fraudulent activities in the rice industry such as illegal importation and price manipulation, as well as global oil price fluctuations.
The EO acknowledges the economic strain that the rising rice prices place on Filipinos, particularly those who are underprivileged and marginalized. It also highlights the inflation rate for rice, which increased from 1.0% in January 2022 to 4.2% in July 2023, according to data from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
In response to the situation, EO 39 sets a price ceiling of P41.00 per kilogram for regular milled rice and P45.00 per kilogram for well-milled rice.
As of August 28, 2023, the DA reported that regular milled rice in NCR markets is priced between P42.00 and P55.00 per kilogram, while local well-milled rice costs between P48.00 and P56.00 per kilogram.
The DA also projected that the rice supply for the second semester of 2023 will accumulate to 10.15 million metric tons (MMT), which is more than enough to meet the current demand of 7.76 MMT.
The EO mandates the DA and DTI to oversee strict implementation of the price ceilings, with assistance from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is tasked with reinforcing inspections against hoarding, smuggling, and other illegal activities. Additionally, the Philippine Competition Commission will penalize cartels that take advantage of the food production sector to ensure consumer protection and fair market competition.