SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Tuesday commended the inauguration of Cebu’s Sugbo Merkadong Barato program, underscoring its historical significance in offering quality rice at an unprecedented price of 20 pesos per kilo.
During his speech at the program’s launch at Talisay City Hall, Speaker Romualdez highlighted that this groundbreaking initiative, made possible under the visionary leadership of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr., “signifies a pivotal step towards achieving food security and economic resilience for the nation.”
“Tunay po na makasaysayan ang araw na ito para sa bansang Pilipinas. Ngayong araw, napatunayan ng mga Sugbuanon na hindi imposibleng makamit ang pangarap na magkaroon sa merkado ng de-kalidad na bigas sa halagang 20 pesos bawat kilo,” said Speaker Romualdez, the leader of the 300-plus-strong House of Representatives who is leading the Cash and Rice Distribution (CARD) program in the country in partnership with Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Sec. Rex Gatchalian.
The CARD program distributes financial and rice assistance to vulnerable Filipino families through the legislative districts in the country in response to President Marcos’ call for the House of Representatives to help provide cheaper rice for needy Filipinos.
According to the House chief, the achievement of providing quality rice at the unprecedented price of 20 pesos per kilo demonstrates the determination of the Sugbuanon people to overcome challenges and find innovative solutions to address the impact of global inflation on essential commodities.
“Rather than curse in the dark, people of Cebu chose to rise to the challenge and seek innovative ways to address the high prices of rice and other basic goods brought by global inflation,” the Speaker pointed out.
“Ipinakita ninyo sa buong bansa ang tibay ng mga Sugbuanon sa pagharap sa lahat ng hamon ng buhay. Sa halip na magmukmok at sumuko, pinatunayan ninyo na hindi imposibleng makamit ang ating mga pangarap kung magtutulungan lamang tayong mga Pilipino,” he added.
The Speaker extended his heartfelt appreciation to the leaders of Cebu province, particularly Gov. Gwen Garcia, for their exemplary leadership in implementing innovative solutions.
The model adopted by Cebu in providing rice at P20 per kilo is revolutionary and deserves replication across the country, he said.
“The Cebu Provincial Government’s initiatives, including the Bugasan sa Kababayen-an sa Barangay, the localization of Kadiwa ng Pangulo, and the groundbreaking Sugbo Merkadong Barato, are all commendable steps towards making food more accessible and affordable,” Speaker Romualdez emphasized. “These programs are not just about providing rice at lower prices; they are about empowering our communities, particularly our women, farmers, fisherfolks, and micro-entrepreneurs.”
The Speaker noted that the Bugasan sa Kababayen-an sa Barangay initiative, empowering women’s organizations with an initial capital of rice sacks, exemplifies a community-driven approach to economic challenges.
On the other hand, he said the localization of Kadiwa ng Pangulo and the Sugbo Merkadong Barato showcase collaborative governance, ensuring affordable basic commodities for all.
Recognizing the crucial support of government departments, Speaker Romualdez acknowledged the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Labor and Employment, especially praising the TUPAD (Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers Program) as a lifeline for producers.
“As we launch the Sugbo Merkadong Barato today, let us remember that this initiative is more than just about providing affordable rice. It is about building a stronger, more self-reliant Cebu and, by extension, a stronger Philippines,” Speaker Romualdez said.
He lauded the provincial government for its willingness to absorb losses to ensure affordability, saying it “speaks volumes about its commitment to the welfare of the Sugbuanons.”
In closing, the Speaker extended his deepest gratitude to everyone involved in these initiatives, assuring that under the guidance of President Marcos, the nation is “on the right path towards a future where every Filipino has access to affordable, nutritious food.”