Rice prices range from P46 to P58 per kilo for the different varieties of commercial rice at the Cogeo Market Ventures Corp. stall in Antipolo City, Rizal, Aug. 31, 2018. (PNA file photo by Joey O. Razon)

The implementation of the mandated price ceilings for rice will start on September 5 nationwide, Malacañang said Friday.

The clarification was made after Executive Order (EO) 39 stated that the price cap on regular and well-milled rice will take effect immediately upon its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

“The Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) clarified on Friday that Executive Order No. 39, which sets a price ceiling on regular and well-milled rice in the whole country, will take effect on September 5, Tuesday,” Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement.

EO 39 sets the mandated price per kilogram of regular milled rice at P41 and well-milled rice at P45.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. signed EO 39 on Thursday, approving the August 31 recommendation of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to impose mandated price ceilings on rice amid the current surge in retail prices of the staple in the country.

EO 39 directs the DTI and the DA to ensure the strict implementation of the mandated price ceilings, monitor and investigate abnormal price movements of rice in the market, and provide assistance to affected retailers, with the help of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

It also orders the Bureau of Customs to step up its ongoing inspections and raids of rice warehouses to combat hoarding and illegal importation and facilitate the confiscation, seizure or forfeiture of smuggled rice as may be warranted by the law.

DTI Assistant Secretary Agaton Uvero said composite teams comprised of different government agencies, in coordination with local government units, will visit markets to monitor prices of the two rice varieties.

“The law will run after hoarders and profiteers,” he said at the Saturday News Forum in Quezon City. “We will see to it that public markets are complying or else, retailers will be fined up to P2 million.”

Agaton assured other varieties of rice will still be available but “premium rice costs much higher.”

In a media interview in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan earlier Friday, Marcos urged the public to report violators of the price caps.

“I would encourage anyone who finds that someone or a retailer is selling at above the price ceiling, i-report po ninyo, i-report ninyo sa pulis, i-report ninyo doon sa DA, doon sa lugar ninyo, i-report ninyo sa local government para matingnan po namin at tiyakin na hindi lalampas doon sa ating presyo na nilagay,” he said.

Marcos said that while EO 39 would be implemented nationwide, the government would focus its monitoring in Metro Manila, noting that the condition “is not so bad outside” the country’s metropolis.

The Philippine Rice Industry Stakeholders Movement (PRISM), an association of rice traders, likewise said it will work with the government to provide consumers with affordable and quality rice.

While some industry stakeholders do not agree with the order, PRISM lead convenor Rowena Sadicon hopes their members will understand the position of the Chief Executive, according to a news release of the Presidential Communications Office.

Citing the OES statement, Garafil said any inquiry or complaint can be coursed through the government’s 8888 Citizens’ Complaint Center. (with a report from Ferdinand Patinio/PNA)