Roque: NFA rice has arrived in PH; prices of rice to go down

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 18) — Cheaper rice will now be available in the market, a top government official said Monday.

Asked on whether the anticipated 250,000 metric tons of NFA rice have arrived in the country, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said "Opo confirmado na po 'yan [Yes it is already confirmed.]"

He said the stocks of buffer rice will be sold at the price range of ₱27 to ₱32, as set by the National Food Authority (NFA), while commercial rice will be sold at ₱36 to ₱38.

"Per clarification from the Department of Agriculture, commercial rice is now at P36-P38 as a result of the arrival of the 250,000 metric tons of NFA rice...Once unloaded, it (NFA rice) will be sold at NFA price of ₱27-₱32," Roque said in a statement.

Roque said the government expects the market price of rice to lower gradually following the arrival of the new stocks considering the previous price surge resulted from the public's perception of shortage in the market.

"Baka patuloy pa po ang pagbaba niyan dahil 'yung pagtaas naman eh bahagi ng dahilan doon ang pagpanic sa persepsyon na naubos na ang bigas na di naman naintindihan ng marami," he said.

[Translation: The price may go even lower, because the previous surge of prices resulted from the perception that we have ran out of rice.]

Roque also reiterated the statement of Budget Secretary Ben Diokno, who earlier said the NFA, should be blamed for the price increase after spreading panic over the market.

"Lilinawin ko po ang importante ay iwasan ang pangyayari nang nakalipas na hindi po nakabili ng bigas noong panahon ng pag-aani. [To be clear, what is important is we avoid what happened before when we were not able to purchase rice during lean period.] Si Secretary Diokno has been firm even in the last cabinet meeting that it was gross incompetence for NFA not to have purchased rice during harvest time to ensure na meron silang stock [that they have stock]," Roque said.

READ: Standard retail price of basic goods increase

The Presidential spokesman said the NFA rice supply is currently in Subic, Zambales and has yet to be unloaded. Once unloaded they can be sold immediately in the market.