Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration is fast becoming known not only for its unfulfilled campaign promises but rash decisions that could result in disastrous consequences.

His latest Executive Order (EO) 39, which put a price cap on rice in the market, could result in shortages as rice retailers would likely stop selling at a loss.

EO 39 took effect this week, pegging rice prices at P41 to P45 per kilo, benefiting consumers.

But the price of rice at P41 per kilo is more than double the price promised by Marcos, who vowed to bring down rice prices to P20 per kilo when he was running for president in 2022.

Initially, the Marcos government sold a limited supply of rice at P25 per kilo in Kadiwa stores, a propaganda stint to make Filipinos believe that he was fulfilling campaign promises.

However, the “Kadiwa” rice at P25 per kilo is unsustainable because the country does not have enough supply and relies on imported rice.

The cheap rice in Kadiwa stores were from the National Food Authority (NFA) stocks kept for distribution when there are natural calamities, like typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

The NFA stocks are rapidly depleting because of the Kadiwa cheap rice stunt.

Thus, Marcos issued EO 39 to bring down rice prices, which continued to rise and reach more than P50 per kilo.

Rice farmers, traders, and retailers raised a howl of protests against EO 39 because it could translate to huge losses.

Rice retailers in wet markets and supermarkets said they could not afford to sell rice at P41 to P45 per kilo when they bought their stocks at P48 per kilo.

They appealed to the president to give them enough time to dispose of their stocks before selling rice at P41 per kilo.

Farmers were also complaining because the caps could translate to reduced farm gate prices for rice and deprive them of income.

Farmers have been selling rice at P25 per kilo but EO 39 would force rice traders to buy below P16 per kilo, which is not enough to recover costs for planting rice due to the high cost of fertilizers.

Farmers may stop planting rice and shift to other crops where they can earn more for their products.

Farmers’ groups, traders, and retailers said the government did not consult rice stakeholders before EO 39 was issued and probably did not make any study on its effects.

The Philippines is an agricultural country but continues to struggle on rice production mainly due to weather, limited farmlands, and a big population.

If the government really wanted to bring down rice prices, perhaps it could do so by removing the 35 percent tax on imported rice under the rice tariffication law.

The Philippines is among the world’s largest importers of rice, perhaps next to China, buying about 2 million tons yearly from Thailand, Vietnam, and other countries.

The government is not allowed to import rice under the rice tariffication law and private rice traders pay taxes, which are plowed back to rice farmers.

The government now wants to review the rice tariffication law to restore some regulatory functions and authorize the NFA to import rice again.

The planned review of the rice tariffication law and the issuance of EO 39 betrays the government’s struggle to bring down rice promises to fulfill the president’s campaign promise.

The success of President Marcos hangs largely on rice prices, a sensitive product that makes or breaks an administration.

His father, dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., had also failed in his rice policies. He may have succeeded briefly with the “Masagana 99” program but corruption brought it down.

There was a time when rice was rationed during the administration of the elder Marcos.

When Gloria Arroyo was in power, rice was also rationed due to supply shortage.

There is danger there would be another supply shortage due to EO 39 because traders and retailers would keep old rice stocks bought at a higher price and wait for new harvests that would be bought at cheaper farm gate prices to sell at P41 to P45 per kilo.