US-Marcos Jr regime's price ceiling ploy brings further problems, not solutions

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Marcos Jr’s latest Executive Order 39 setting rice prices ceiling begets further problems and not solutions. It pits farmers’ interests for reasonable selling price for their produce against the interests of small traders for their wares and consumers for affordable rice while allowing cartels to continue their control. Because rice prices are forcibly lowered although no structural change has been made to the farming and market system that would have naturally given way to it, farmers are sure to be on the short end of the stick since they will be forced to sell their products at even lower prices. Small traders and retailers who get their supplies from big-time suppliers will also suffer profit losses. Meanwhile, there is no provision ensuring the removal of cartels’ control over rice supply and distribution. In the end, the masses lose again.

This anti-poor and seemingly slapdash order reflects this reactionary state’s deliberate elusion from its citizens’ problems. In fact, if it so wants, the key steps that it should be taking to lower rice prices without endangering the farmers and small traders are all very clear. Prime among these is capacity-building for farmers to grow and harvest larger volumes of palay at a cheaper cost. This should be combined with the immediate scrapping of all laws that remove government regulatory powers over rice supply and distribution that allow cartels to reign free such as the Rice Tariffication Law. Of course, it is also important to strengthen the masses’ purchasing power through substantive wage increase until it reaches the living wage amount. If the government would only buy local farmers’ produce at a just price and sell these in the market through subsidized pricing, then rice prices will naturally lower without compromising the livelihoods of the poor. But alas, in the end it is unsurprising that the US-Marcos Jr regime refuses to do these steps since these are in direct contradiction of his local ruling classes and imperialist masters’ interests.

This regime calculatingly wrings the farmers to their very limit to goad the ensnarement of the farming system under the capitalist system of production through the proliferation of corporate farms and megafarms. Capitalists have long hankered after the expansive agricultural lands of the country. Through land corporatization and privatization, these big businessmen can milk even grosser amounts of superprofits while the peasantry will be tethered to the exploitative wage system. The government will be free from its responsibility of land distribution to the farmers and will be able to push for more aggressive land conversion in favor of the few local and foreign ruling elite.

Amidst these dire socioeconomic crises and US-Marcos Jr regime’s anti-people `solutions’, the Filipino nation has no one to rely on aside from its own strength. The people must unite and insist on concrete answers that will genuinely serve their interests and will not jeopardize their livelihoods and future.

US-Marcos Jr regime's price ceiling ploy brings further problems, not solutions