The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian on Saturday assured micro rice retailers at the Commonwealth Market in Quezon City that the Marcos administration will continue helping them not only financially but also the monitoring of their well-being.
Secretary Gatchalian, along with Department of Agriculture (DA) Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Director Fhillip Sawali, led the kick-off of the simultaneous cash assistance payout for micro rice retailers in Quezon City and the cities of San Juan and Caloocan on Saturday (September 9).
The cash assistance is part of the Rice Retailers Assistance Program (RRAP), which aims to provide financial support to small-scale rice sellers who are affected by the rice tariffication law and the COVID-19 pandemic. The program also seeks to ensure the availability and affordability of quality rice in the market.
According to Secretary Gatchalian, the RRAP is one of the priority programs of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who has vowed to uplift the lives of the poor and marginalized sectors of society. He said that the program is not only a one-time assistance, but also a continuous intervention that will monitor the progress and welfare of the beneficiaries.
“We are not just giving you money, we are also checking on your situation. We want to know if you are able to cope with the challenges that you are facing. We want to help you improve your livelihood and income. We want to empower you as micro entrepreneurs,” Secretary Gatchalian said.
He added that the DSWD, in coordination with the DA and the DTI, will also provide other forms of assistance to the micro rice retailers, such as skills training, marketing support, and access to credit facilities. He said that these interventions will help them become more competitive and resilient in the rice industry.
Undersecretary Panganiban, meanwhile, said that the DA is committed to ensuring food security and stability in the country, especially amid the ongoing health crisis. He said that the DA is implementing various programs and projects to support the rice sector, such as providing seeds, fertilizers, machinery, irrigation, and post-harvest facilities.
He also urged the micro rice retailers to source their rice supply from local farmers, who are producing high-quality and affordable rice varieties. He said that this will help boost the income of both the farmers and the retailers, as well as promote local consumption and patronage of Philippine rice.
Director Sawali, on the other hand, said that the DTI is ready to assist the micro rice retailers in complying with the fair trade laws and regulations. He said that the DTI will conduct regular monitoring and inspection of their business operations, as well as provide them with information and education on consumer rights and responsibilities.
He also encouraged the micro rice retailers to register their businesses with the DTI, which will entitle them to various benefits and incentives. He said that this will also help them formalize their enterprises and increase their credibility and trustworthiness among their customers.
The RRAP is expected to benefit around 20,000 micro rice retailers nationwide, who will receive a one-time cash assistance of P5,000 each. The program has a total budget allocation of P100 million, which was sourced from the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).