By Azer Parrocha

‘KADIWA NG PANGULO’. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (center) inspects food and agriculture products at the Kadiwa ng Pangulo caravan in Pili, Camarines Sur on Thursday (March 16, 2023). In his speech, Marcos reiterated his promise to reduce the price of rice to PHP20 per kg. (PNA photo by Alfred Frias)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday led the launch of Bicol Region’s first Kadiwa ng Pangulo in Pili, Camarines Sur, vowing to stick to his promise of bringing down the prices of rice to PHP20 per kilo.

In his speech, Marcos expressed optimism that rice would soon be more affordable for all consumers.

Currently, consumers can buy rice at PHP25 per kg. in Kadiwa ng Pangulo pop-up stores across the country.

Ang aking pangarap na sinabi na bago ako umupo na sana maipababa natin ang presyo ng bigas ng PHP20. Hindi pa tayo umaabot dun, dahan-dahan palapit. Nasa PHP25 na tayo konti na lang maibababa natin ‘yan (My dream that I have shared before I assumed office is to bring down the price of rice to PHP20. We aren’t there yet, but we are slowly getting closer. We are now at PHP25 per kg., just a little bit more and we can reduce it further),” he said.

In a media interview, Marcos expressed hope that his goal of lowering the price of rice to PHP20 per kilo will be realized “ASAP” or as soon as possible if the weather permits.

Minamalas din tayo sa weather kaya hindi mo matiyak kung ano yung magiging production, ano yung magiging supply. So tignan natin. pababa ng pababa (We’re unlucky when it comes to weather so we cannot be sure about our production and supply. So, let’s see. It keeps going lower) We’ll keep working on it,” he added.

He said he wanted to do the same for other agricultural products, such as onion and sugar.

Marcos also renewed his promise to put up more Kadiwa pop-up stores in addition to the existing 500 stores nationwide.

Pararamihin natin hangga’t maaari para makikita natin na mayroon pagbabago at pagpaganda doon sa ating mga ginagawa, sa ating mga kababyaan, sa inyo, na mayroon naman tayong pag-asa na umahon at hindi na tayo dumadaan gaano sa hirap (We will increase the number of Kadiwa stores until we see changes and improvements in what we are doing for the citizens, that there is hope that we will not go through as much hardship),” he said.

The President likewise reiterated support for vulnerable communities and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) still reeling from the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Camarines Sur Governor Luigi Villafuerte, meanwhile, said it was an honor to be selected as the first province in the Bicol region to put up a Kadiwa ng Pangulo pop-up store.

Isa pong karangalan para sa amin na sa buong Bicol region, tayo po, ang probinsya ng Camarines Sur, ang unang probinsya na nagkaroon po ng Kadiwa ng Pangulo (It is an honor for us that in the entire Bicol region, we at the province of Camarines Sur, are the first province to have our own Kadiwa ng Pangulo),” he said.

Villafuerte also pledged to join the efforts of the Department of Agriculture (DA), which is headed by Marcos, to create a large-scale production of agricultural products in Camarines Sur.

Napaka-suwerte po natin na napili tayo ni President Bongbong Marcos na tayo ay maging unang Kadiwa ng Pangulo. Gusto po natin ma-replicate po ‘to sa ibang parte ng ating probinsya para mas marami tayong matulungan (We are very lucky that President Bongbong Marcos chose us to be the first Kadiwa ng Pangulo. We want to replicate this in other parts of our province so that we can help more people),” he added.

About 39 sellers from the DA, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and National Food Authority are among the participants in the Kadiwa program, according to state-run Radio Television Malacañang.

DOLE is providing wages for participating sellers under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program.

Launched in November last year, the Kadiwa ng Pangulo pop-up stores remove middlemen in the movement of agricultural products from farms to consumers, allowing food and agricultural products to be sold at cheaper prices.

Kadiwa stalls were a brainchild of Marcos’ parents, the late president Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. and former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos. (PNA)