Pilot subsidy payout benefits 14 rice retailers in Iloilo City

Fourteen retailers here on Wednesday received PHP15,000 each during the pilot payout of the government subsidy to help them cope with the impact of the price cap for regular and well-milled rice. Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Regional Director Carmelo Nochete, in his message during the payout at the Office of Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, said the grant was their incentive for complying with the mandated cap of PHP41 per kilogram (kg) of regular milled rice (RMR) and PHP45 per kg. of well-milled rice (WMR). 'Initially, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has identified 250 beneficiaries at PHP15,000 each. So far this morning, we have 14 and this is the pilot payout. There are more batches to come,' he said in an interview. The money for the payout came from the unobligated fund under the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) of the regional DSWD, though the central office can always send augmentation. The one-time assistance for micro rice retailers requires no repayment because it is a grant, Nochete said. They will be monitored, however, to ensure their compliance as long as Executive Order (EO) 39, which mandated the rice price cap, is in effect. The payout for Bacolod City and Negros Occidental was released Wednesday afternoon, while the rest of the provinces, except for Iloilo, will get theirs on Thursday. The DSWD said it will for the DTI to set the schedule of payout for Iloilo province. Nochete said the DTI has the guidelines in choosing eligible retailers. In her message, DTI officer-in-charge Regional Director for Western Visayas Ermelinda Pollentes said prioritized in the list were registered retailers that were compliant with EO 39. The focus of the DTI is to monitor manufactured basic needs and prime commodities, but they were requested to help the Department of Agriculture (DA), she added. Marvie Lapastura, 54, a rice trader for over 20 years, said she would purchase more stocks of RMR and WMR using the subsidy. Lapastura said she immediately complied because she heard there was a penalty of imprisonment for those who violated the order. In an interview, Local Economic Development and Investment Promotions Office head Velma Jane Lao said a monitoring by the Local Economic Enterprise Office showed rice retailers in Iloilo City public markets were 90 percent compliant with the order. Retailers at the Iloilo Terminal Market, Lapaz Public Market, Jaro Big Market, Jaro Small Market and the Mandurriao Public Market were all compliant. At the Central Market, however, the RMR is sold at PHP45 to PHP49 per kg. and WMR at PHP45 to PHP52 per kg., while at the Arevalo Public Market, RMR is at PHP43 per kg. 'This is a temporary measure, so we appeal for them to comply for now,' she said.

Source: Philippines News Agency