By Jose Cielito Reganit

FARM TO MARKET LINK. Fresh vegetables and fruits are on sale at Kadiwa ng Pangulo stalls located at the Quezon City Hall covered path walk on April 16, 2024. The House of Representatives on Monday (April 29, 2024) vowed an unyielding fight against hoarding, profiteering and smuggling of agricultural products to protect both producers and consumers. (PNA photos by Ben Briones)

MANILA – Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Monday reaffirmed the House of Representatives’ commitment to fight hoarding, profiteering and smuggling of agricultural products, making it a top priority of the chamber.

“Tuloy ang laban natin kontra sa mga hoarders, profiteers, at smugglers ng mga agricultural products (Our fight against hoarders, profiteers, and smugglers of agricultural products continues),” Romualdez said in his speech during the resumption of legislative session.

Romualdez said he will not let ordinary Filipinos suffer from greedy individuals who abuse the prices of basic goods.

“We cannot ignore the plight of our farmers who are struggling to make ends meet, nor can we turn a blind eye to the burden placed on consumers. There will be no letup in the fight against hoarding, profiteering, and smuggling of agricultural products, ensuring fair prices for both farmers and consumers” he added.

Romualdez made the commitment while expressing deep concern about the widening gap between farmgate and retail prices of essential commodities, especially rice.

To address this pressing issue, the House Committee on Trade and Industry convened on Monday to receive briefings from relevant government agencies regarding the implementation of laws and programs governing pricing mechanisms and regulations for basic necessities and prime commodities.

Romualdez said the briefing marked the start of a congressional inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the widening gap between farmgate and retail prices of rice and other essential goods.

Romualdez urged his colleagues for immediate legislative action to protect the interests of both producers and consumers, as he emphasized the role of oversight in ensuring a fair and transparent trading environment.

Citing the need for collaboration among various stakeholders, he also urged government agencies, industry representatives and consumer advocacy groups to actively participate in the investigation and contribute to the formulation of effective policy interventions.

“We must identify and address loopholes that contribute to profiteering and unfair pricing practices within the supply chain,” Romualdez said.

“At the end of the day, we want to make sure that all the stakeholders in whatever industry or sectors are viable, if they are in the business side of it, so that it becomes sustainable so that we can continue delivering basic goods and services to the consumers at sustainable, affordable prices,” he added. (PNA)