Incoming Agrarian Reform chief holds BBM’s P20 per kg rice promise

President-elect Bongbong Marcos’s campaign promise of lowering the price of rice to P20 per kilo is “not possible in the near future”, incoming Agrarian Reform chief Conrado Estrella III said on Thursday, 16 June.,The former Abono party-list group representative recalled having a dialogue with his fellow farmers to consult about the goal of providing cheaper rice to consumers.,“We studied if the farm gate price of rice can be lower than P10. It can’t be. We can only reduce it as far as P14. When it is delivered to the millers and retailers, it can be sold at P28,” Estrella said in a television interview.,“I don’t think it is possible in the very near future. It’s not possible, but you know how technology is.”,Estrella stressed that the P20/kilogram of rice is not a mere campaign promise of Marcos, saying that the next Chief Executive is “committed” to doing it.,The former party-list lawmaker revealed that the President-elect offered him both the posts to lead the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).,Being the grandson of the first DAR chief Conrado Estrella Sr., he chose to lead the same agency, which is responsible for the equitable redistribution of agrarian land in the country.,Estrella Sr.—served as the agrarian minister of the late deposed president Ferdinand Marcos Sr. from 1971 to 1986.,“I chose DAR and for the obvious reasons. We would like to be issuing titles under the presidency of President Bongbong Marcos,” he said.,Earlier, outgoing DAR Secretary Bernie Cruz said reducing the price of rice to P20 per kilo can only be achieved through a “mega farm”.,Marcos has promised Filipino consumers to bring down the price of rice by P20 to P30 per kilo by recommending a price cap.,To be able to do this, he pointed to the need for a regular and thorough inventory of rice harvests in the country.,During the campaign period, Marcos said he would issue an executive order directing the DA and the National Food Authority to procure rice harvests from local farmers at higher and more competitive prices.,He said this would also be one way of preventing rice cartels from controlling the supply and demand of the product in the market.,Marcos also earlier expressed his intention to amend the Rice Tariffication Law and make it more local farmer-friendly and stop dependence on rice importations.,He believes that doing away with rice importations would ensure the livelihood of local farmers.,Estrella also mentioned that he plans to investigate the arrest of 91 farmers and land reform advocates at Hacienda Tinang in Concepcion, Tarlac.,It was reported that the farmers were listed as beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).,“I was told some of the beneficiaries were not able to enter the lands assigned to them because there is pressure from the original landowner, harassment, and all sorts of things. We will look into it so we could prevent incidents such as Hacienda Tinang,” he stressed.