By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Maintaining that the abusive rice traders are playing “dysfunctional”role in the implementation of the seven-month old Rice Tarrification Law, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda is strongly urging President Duterte to launch an “economic tokhang” against them.
The chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means said to ease the plight of the country’s poor farmers, the government should start opening the warehouses of the rice traders and look into their business records and operations.
“If you analyse it, the Rice Tarrification Law has further strengthened our traders. I am calling on the government to launch ‘tokhang’ against them,” Salceda told reporters.
“This is one biggest structural anomaly in our economy,” Salceda stressed.
He said the government should fully use its power to open warehouses to determine if the market traders are hoarding rice and committing economic sabotage.
“Open their warehouses, look into their business record,” the House leader asked the government.
He said the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) should look into the operation of the market traders and if it finds any irregularities, it may submit their findings to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
He said the DOJ, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), with the support of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) should study filing cases of economic sabotage, profiteering and price manipulation against abusive traders.
Salceda laments that the Rice Tarrification Law or Republic Act No. 11203, signed by President Duterte in February this year has encouraged hoarding among the market traders.
“The prices reflect the structure of the industry. This is a prima facie evidence that there are cartels. The traders benefit from the RTL (Rice Tarrification Law),” he said.
“We are simply wiped away by the strong waves of bad traders,” he said, even as he chided the PCC for its “pre-judgment that there is no rice cartel.”
“It is a point of exasperation for us in Congress that this well-intended reform actually resulted, merely heightened or intensified structural anomaly which is the dysfunctional role of regional or localized [feudal] monopsonies– in a situation, there is a single buyer,”the House leader said.
He said there are “enough laws” to penalize the abusive traders for committing unjust enrichment, economic sabotage, hoarding, price manipulation, and restraint of trade.
“We can go after them in terms of damages. We can go after in terms of economic sabotage,” he said, describing the abusive act of the traders as a “mockery” of the law.
“A major pronouncement from the President makes everybody behaved,” Salceda said.