BOTOLAN, Zambales — Residents of this town are now buying rice at less than P20 per kilo under a rice subsidy program initiated by the local government unit.
Botolan Mayor Jun Omar Ebdane said the subsidy project was launched by his administration last July 12 and will continue until September 29.
“This is really meant to help the poor, especially our Ayta brethren in the remote areas, as well as marginal farmers and even fishermen, so that they may avail of rice at cheaper prices during the rainy months when there is no rice harvest,” Ebdane explained.
He said two LGU teams go out to the barangays on a thrice-a-week schedule and, with the help of village councils, distribute the rice at the discounted price of P100 for six kilos.
“That is around P16.67 per kilo,” Ebdane pointed out.
Ebdane said the rice subsidy program is a joint project of the Botolan LGU, the provincial government of Zambales, and the office of Congresswoman Doris Maniquiz of the second district of Zambales.
“Originally, our target price was P20 per kilo for five kilos. But Congresswoman Bing (Maniquiz) added a counterpart of one kilo, so it became six kilos for P100,” Ebdane added.
He said the rice supply being sold at discounted prices are commercial-grade varieties sourced out from local rice growers.
He added that the rice subsidy program has been undertaken here in Botolan since 2016 when Maniquiz was still town mayor. “I just adopted it because it really makes a difference to needy residents,” Ebdane added.
Since the program started out in July, Botolan has released some 580 cavans of rice, or more than 29,000 kilos to residents.
Botolan, which has the biggest land area among the 13 towns in Zambales, has a total of 31 barangays, some of them located in the rugged foothills near Mt. Pinatubo. It has a total population of 66,739 as of 2020.“We did not set a limit to how many 6-kilo packages the residents may avail of,” Ebdane also pointed out. “As long as they get stubs from their barangay, which is meant to check if the buyers are bona fide residents, then they can buy as much as they need.”