By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

RICE PRICE CAP. Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. (left) leads the inspection of a rice stall in Quezon City on Sept. 5, 2023. The DILG chief on Wednesday (Sept. 13, 2023) called on local government units to enact ordinances that would help ease the burden of rice retailers affected by the price ceiling mandated by Executive Order 39. (Photo courtesy of DILG)

MANILA – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. on Wednesday called on local government units (LGUs) to pass ordinances to help rice dealers and traders in their localities.

During the 35th anniversary celebration of the Metro Manila Councilors League (MMCL) in Pasay City, Abalos enjoined city and municipal councilors to enact an ordinance to cushion the effect of rice price ceiling under Executive Order (EO) 39 on the livelihood of traders.

“Baka puwedeng magpasa kayo ng ordinansa to empower the mayor na magbigay ng diskwento sa mga may pwesto sa palengke na rice retailers o ilibre ninyo na yung kanilang stalls (Maybe you can pass an ordinance to empower the mayors to give discounts on stall rental for rice retailers or waive the rental fees) for a month,” he said in a statement.

Abalos, a former Mandaluyong City mayor, said the city is one of the first local government units that passed an ordinance to help rice retailers.

The city government suspended the assessment and collection of market stall fees from rice retailers at the Mandaluyong Public Markets 1 and 2 from Sept. 5 to Oct. 5.

Earlier, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. authorized the distribution of PHP5,000 to PHP15,000 cash grant to qualified small rice retailers and sari-sari store owners selling rice affected by EO 39.

Meanwhile, the DILG chief encouraged the MMCL to strengthen public order and safety within the metropolis through the implementation of a unified closed-circuit television (CCTV) system and other technological advancements to fight and solve crimes.

Abalos said the unified approach of Metro Manila councilors in the fight against crime can lead to improved investments and progress.

“Development is almost synonymous with peace and order. Kung masama ang peace and order, mahihirapan magkaroon ng investment (Attracting investments would be hard if we have a bad peace and order situation),” he added.

MMCL president and Caloocan City councilor Carolyn Cunanan said they would work hard to achieve the vision of a united Metro Manila “in terms of service and legislative excellence for our constituents”. (PNA)