BOTOLAN, Zambales: Residents of this town now buy rice for less than 20 pesos per kilo under a rice subsidy program launched by the local government unit (LGU).
Botolan Mayor Jun Omar Ebdane said the grant scheme was launched by his administration on July 12 and will run until September 29.
“This is really meant to help the poor, especially our Ayta brothers in remote areas, as well as marginal farmers and even fishermen, so that they can benefit from rice at cheaper prices during the rainy months when it is there is no rice harvest,” Ebdane explained.
He said two LGU teams visit villages three times a week and, with the help of barangay (village) councils, distribute rice at a reduced price of 100 pesos for 6 kilos.
“That’s about 16.67 pesos per kilo,” Ebdane said.
Ebdane said the rice subsidy program is a joint project of the LGU of Botolan, the provincial government of Zambales and the office of the representative of the second district of Zambales, Doris Maniquiz.
“Originally, our target price was 20 pesos per kilo for five kilos. But MP Bing (Maniquiz) added a counterpart of one kilo, so it became 6 kilos for 100 pesos,” Ebdane added.
He said the supply of rice sold at discounted prices consists of commercial-grade varieties from local rice farmers.
He added that the rice subsidy scheme had been undertaken here in Botolan since 2016, when Maniquiz was still mayor of the town. “I just adopted it because it really makes a difference to residents in need,” Ebdane added.
Since the start of the program in July, Botolan has distributed some 580 cavans of rice, or more than 29,000 kilos, to residents.
Botolan, which has the largest area among the 13 towns of Zambales, has a total of 31 villages, some located in the rugged foothills near Mount Pinatubo. It has a total population of 66,739 as of 2020.
“We have not set a limit on the number of 6-kilo packages residents can benefit from,” Ebdane said. “As long as they get stubs from their barangay, which are meant to check if buyers are bona fide residents, they can buy as much as they need.”