Duterte to rice cartels: Stop messing with me

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte warned rice hoarders and cartel protectors that the government will be aggressive in hunting them down.

"Stop messing with me… consider yourselves warned," Duterte said during his 3rd State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 23.

The President directed all intelligence agencies to address this "economic sabotage" and bring rice cartel protectors to justice.

His second year in office was hounded by the quick surge of rice prices due to the lack of cheap rice from the National Food Authority (NFA).

The lack of NFA rice partly contributed to a jump in the inflation rate, which has been beyond the government's target and market expectations.

Economic managers blamed the NFA's inefficiency and overpricing for the elevated rice prices.

Duterte also declared the rice tariffication bill as urgent.

The measure aims to lift quantitative restrictions of rice imports and slap a 35% rice tariff. Revenues from the measure would then be funneled to programs that would help farmers reduce their production costs.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia previously said the measure would cut rice prices by as much as P7 per kilo and significantly lower inflation. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.