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DSWD sees hike in cash aid for rice retailers

The P15,000 financial assistance for qualified rice retailers affected by the price cap on regular and well-milled rice varieties could be increased, Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian said.

This was as an estimated 25,000 qualified micro rice retailers began receiving their Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) cash assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Saturday.

“We got to talk to the President. He instructed the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and DSWD to calibrate and check the financial assistance. If it is not enough, it should be increased,” Gatchalian said in a TV interview.

RICE RETAILERS’ AID. Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual (second from right) hands P15,000 to one of 48 small rice retailers at the San Juan City public market on Saturday. Witnessing (from left) are DSWD Assistant Secretary Ada Colinco, DA Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa, and San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora. Manny Palmero

The DSWD chief said the agency and the DTI started distributing the cash assistance to affected retailers in three cities — Caloocan, Quezon City, and San Juan.

“For the President, it is important that the MSMEs be assisted. We know they have made sacrifices during this time, so the government wants to help them. We know that although they are traders, they are small traders,” Gatchalian said.

Even sari-sari (retail) stores outside wet markets and public markets are eligible for a P5,000 subsidy, he said in a statement late Friday.

“Unlicensed rice retailers and sari-sari store owners selling rice are also included in the SLP payout, which is in line with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s directive that the list of beneficiaries should be inclusive,” he said. With Jun David

Mr. Marcos ordered the SLP disbursement after the Sept. 5 effectivity of Executive Order 39, which mandates that regular milled rice be sold at P41 per kilogram and well-milled rice at P45 a kilo.

Gatchalian attended the payout in Quezon City with Mayor Joy Belmonte, DSWD Undersecretary Pinky Romualdez, Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban, and DTI – Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau’s Director Phillip Sawali.

In San Juan City where 48 retailers received the SLP aid, Mayor Francis Zamora was joined by Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, DSWD Assistant Secretary Ada Colinco, and DA Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa.

Zamora said San Juan City would add P5,000 to the DSWD aid, and that he spoke to the market building owner to waive next month’s rental for rice retailers.

A total of 136 micro rice retailers in Caloocan received their assistance from Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. and Mayor Dale Malapitan. With Jun David

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