Marcos now blames buying spree among Asian countries for surging rice prices

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 19) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Tuesday that every country in Asia has started boosting their rice reserves, triggering a spike in prices, which he earlier solely blamed on smugglers and hoarders.

During a rice distribution in Zamboanga City, Marcos said Asian countries are now preparing for El Niño, which is expected to greatly hit the agriculture sector.

“Kaya lahat ng bansa sa Asia, tinitiyak nila na sila ay may buffer stock. Kaya nagtaasan ang mga presyo—ang Indonesia bumibili, ang China bumibili, tayo, Thailand, Singapore, lahat bumibili,” he said in his speech on Tuesday.

[Translation: That’s why every country in Asia are ensuring that they have buffer stocks. That’s also the reason for the rising prices, everyone’s buying -- Indonesia, China, even us, Thailand, and Singapore.]

“Sumasabay ang pag-akyat ng bigas kaya kailangan natin lagyan ng price cap,” Marcos added, referring to the price ceiling the government started implementing on Sept. 5.

[Translation: Rice prices go up at the same time, so we need to put a price cap.]

RELATED: Economic team ‘surprised’ by rice price cap – Diokno

Marcos earlier said hoarders and smugglers were the only culprits behind the high prices.

READ: Marcos: Smugglers, hoarders the only reason behind high rice prices

The president also mentioned the government’s move to set higher prices for wet and dry palay to boost local farmers’ income.

Marcos led the distribution of smuggled rice confiscated by customs authorities to qualified beneficiaries in Zamboanga City.

Around 1,500 sacks -- part of the 42,180 smuggled sacks of rice worth ₱42 million -- were distributed to beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

He said suppliers were given enough time to provide proof that the shipment legally entered the Philippines.

But since they failed to comply, the seized rice supply would be turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for distribution in the region.