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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Marcos’ claim that cap stabilized rice prices has NO BASIS

No basis

In his Oct. 7 vlog, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos claimed that the price cap on rice that he ordered on Aug. 31 has stabilized prices of the staple. This has no basis.

(See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Bakit may P41 price cap kung ‘malapit na’ ang P20 kada kilo ng bigas?)

STATEMENT

Reacting to recent survey results showing a decline in his approval rating, Marcos said that what he keeps track of are not survey results but rice prices and supply in the country that affect the population. He said:

“‘Yan ang tunay na panukal kung talagang tama ang ating ginagawa at nakikita naman natin sa resultapag-stabilize ng presyo dahil sa price cap at sa pagtanggal ng price cap at sunod na d’yan ‘yung ating ibang mga stratehiya para tulungan ang ating mga farmer para naman hindi naman nalulugi ang ating mga magsasaka.”

 

(Those [declining rice prices and sufficient rice supply] are the true metrics from which we can see if our decisions are correct and we see the results – the prices of rice have stabilized because of the cap and its lifting. Next are the various strategies to help our farmers so they don’t lose money.)

 

Source: Bongbong Marcos Official YouTube Channel, BBM VLOG #250: Libreng Bigas | Bongbong Marcos, Oct. 7, 2023, watch from 3:43 to 4:01

The vlog was published a day after Marcos distributed P42-million worth of confiscated smuggled rice to Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries in Aklan and Capiz.

FACT

Marcos did not cite any basis to support his statement that rice prices stabilized as a result of the price cap, which he ordered on Aug. 31 through Executive Order No. 39. 

However, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Oct. 5 that the agency cannot yet say with certainty that there is any “causality” of the order to the retail prices of rice. Asked during a briefing if the price cap has failed to bring down rice prices given the high inflation rate, PSA Undersecretary Dennis Mapa said, “This is a research question that researchers would study based on the data that we are collecting.”

In the same briefing, PSA said the inflation rate for rice reached 17.9% in September, more than double the rate in August, which was recorded at 8.5%. It noted that this is the highest in 14 years, or since March 2009 which saw a 22.9% rice inflation rate.

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Marcos’ claim that cap stabilized rice prices has NO BASIS

“Data itself in PSA has shown that rice prices have gone up. Not just that, CPI (consumer price index) also rose,” said Luisito Abueg in a mix of English and Filipino. Abueg is an assistant professor of economics at the College of Economics and Management at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. 

He further pointed out that the price cap did not address the segmented nature of the agriculture sector, which enables rice distributors to corner most of the market gains by buying at low farmgate prices and selling the grain to retailers at a higher mark-up.

“We know very well from elementary economics that any government intervention in the market is distortionary. It would be a loss to society as a whole. At the moment, our [rice] producers are at a disadvantage,” the economist explained. 

“If you want to put down prices, you should target those who have the most control of the system, and that is the distribution side.”

BACKSTORY

Citing the need to “ease the economic strain” brought by the surge of retail prices of rice, Marcos mandated a price ceiling of P41 per kilo for regular-milled rice and P45 per kilo for well-milled rice.

Of the 2,601 regular-milled rice varieties that the PSA tracked, only 24.61% or 640 fell within the P41 price cap. For well-milled rice, 19.64% or 687 out of 3,948 well-milled rice varieties fell within the P45 price cap, according to data gathered from PSA’s field offices.

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Sources

On the distribution of P42-million worth of smuggled rice

Presidential Communications Office, Talumpati ni President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. sa pamamahagi ng iba’t ibang tulong ng pamahalaan sa Tangalan, Aklan, Oct. 6, 2023

Official Gazette of the Philippines, Executive Order No. 39, Aug. 31, 2023

Philippine Statistics Authority, Press Conference September 2023 Inflation Report, Oct. 6, 2023

Philippine Statistics Authority, Philippine Inflation Rate for All Income Households – September 2023, Oct. 6, 2023

Assistant Professor Luisito Abueg (UPLB College of Economics and Management), Personal communication (interview), Oct. 13, 2023

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)