More than 400 rice retailers from six areas in the Philippines affected by rice price caps have already received a cash grant from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) amounting to at least P7.5 million.

DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian said that they have already distributed cash grants to 474 small and micro rice retailers in the cities of San Juan, Caloocan, Navotas, Parañaque, and Quezon City and in the province of Zamboanga del Sur. 

Gatchalian said that they expect the number of beneficiaries to increase in the coming days as they target to fast-track the distribution of cash assistance by September 14, or before the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) ban on public spending. 

“Medyo maliit pa iyong catchment natin pero sa araw na ito hanggang sa 14th, lalaki at bibilis ito dahil simultaneous na ang payout natin sa iba’t-ibang rehiyon at iba’t-ibang mga highly urbanized cities,” Gatchalian said during a weekly Palace briefing. 

“Gusto ng Pangulo natin na makarating ang livelihood grant sa ating micro rice retailers sa mabilis na panahon … ang importante sa amin na mabigay lahat kaagad ito dahil mag e-election ban din,” he added. 

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has ordered the distribution of PhP15,000 cash assistance to small rice retailers who were affected by the implementation of the mandated rice price caps on regular and well-milled rice nationwide through Executive Order (EO) No. 39. 

Under the EO, the mandated price ceiling on regular rice is PhP41.00 per kilogram while the mandated price cap on well-milled rice is PhP45.00 per kilogram. 

With the President’s directive, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) have started identifying the qualified beneficiaries of the government’s cash grants. 

The DSWD, on the other hand, is responsible for the distribution of cash assistance through its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). 

As the distribution of cash grants continues, Gatchalian clarified that small rice retailers who were disqualified from receiving cash grants may file an appeal online where the details and other information were posted. 

He added that the DTI has also set up its “grievance desk” for small rice retailers. 

“Let’s say, feeling mo na dapat kasama ka pero nakaligtaan ka, pwede kang mag-apply online, nandoon na iyong mga detalye, or doon sa mga payment center, iyong kapag nagpi-payout kami, mayroon ding grievance desk na itinaguyod ang DTI,” Gatchalian said. 

“So kapag pumunta doon iyong isang tao at sinasabi niya, ‘Ako ay rice retailer.  Bakit wala ako dito?’ kaagad naming kina-capture iyong data ng DTI, ibi-verify then ipapasa ulit sa DSWD,” he added. 

Gatchalian asked small rice retailers to monitor the schedule of the payout in their area so that they will not miss the distribution of assistance intended for them. | PND