Deputy Mayor Cesar Iturralde, vice mayor of Zamboanga, says the city will be in a state of disaster to help local officials tackle the problem of high rice prices
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Zamboanga City will remain in a state of disaster until rice prices are stable, a local official said.
Zamboanga City Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde made the statement that Minister of Agriculture, Manny Piñol, declared the rice crisis "over" with the opening of the Bigasan ng Masa (rice for the poor) in this city.
"Yes, we are still in the status of calamity status regarding the issue of rice in the city, especially with a view to following the price of rice," said Iturralde, chairman of the Zamboanga City Council.
Zamboanga City was brought into a state of disaster because of the scarcity of rice that the commercial rice prices rose to as much as € 70 per kilo in remote villages.
The DA attributed the price increase in Zamboanga to reduced harvest in neighboring rice-producing cities, among other factors.
According to Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act, the price of basic goods in emergencies is automatically frozen at the prevailing prices or placed under automatic price control.
The law provides that: "If the prevailing price of any primary necessity is excessive or unreasonable, the executing authority may recommend to the President to set a maximum price for the sale of the basic necessities at a price other than the prevailing price."
While Piñol had declared the rice crisis on Friday 24 August, the mayor of Zamboanga, Maria Isabelle Climaco Salazar, said the city would be in a state of disaster for 60 days.
The city's newly established Rice Monitoring Team has followed rice warehouses and rice prices on the market to check for violations.
The city council said in a message on the official Facebook page on Tuesday, August 28 that on the basis of the supervision of the city guru the rice prices have dropped a bit in the villages of the city.
"We expect prices to drop further in the coming days as NFA (National Food Authority) and commercial rice stocks find their way to Zamboanga City," it added.
During his visit to Zamboanga City on Friday, Piñol has proposed additional rice imports for the Zamboanga-Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi area (Zambasulta) due to towering prices.
Previously, Isabela City in Basilan was brought under a state of disaster, also because of a shortage of rice.
Neighboring provinces such as Zamboanga Sibugay had considered making the same statement, but decided not to do so because the harvest season had begun. – Rappler.com